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Bogus BBC Fukushima radiation texts panic the Philippines

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Hoax BBC text messages are claiming that radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has begun spreading in the Philippines.

Authorities in Manila were obliged to issue an official denial over the SMS messages, which are entirely bogus. The put-up messages (extract below) advise recipients to stay indoors, and to start taking unnecessary medical precautions.

BBC Flashnews: Japan gov't confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plants. Asian countries should take necessary precautions. Remain indoors first 24hours. Close doors and windows. Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, radiation hits thyroid first. Take extra precaution, radiation may hit Philippines.

The supposed news flash is reckoned to be the work of pranksters, whose actions forced the Philippines' Department of Science and Technology to put out a statement designed to quell public fears.

"The advice circulating that people should stay indoors and to wear raincoats if they go outdoors has no basis and did not come from DOST or the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center," it said.

The rumour was plausible enough for some companies and schools to start sending people home, net security firm Sophos reports.

The security firm advises people to check with official sources rather than relying on randomly forwarded messages for advice. The hoax messages went out in both English and Filipino, and some of the English language versions of the messages have been forwarded on to other Asian countries, including The Maldives.

Superheated and highly pressurised gases caused explosions of the outer hulls of a number of reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plants, but the reactors themselves remain intact and meltdown has been averted following the failure of cooling systems caused by Friday's mighty earthquake and resulting tsunami off the coast of north eastern Japan.

Low-life scum have quickly taken advantage of the disaster in attempts to ensnare surfers looking for news within scareware portals. More recently fake donation websites have been established, Trend Micro warns. Spam emails invite would-be marks to donate to the bogus site. ®

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