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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019

Japanese radiation text warning hoax spreads panic

Philippine authorities have called for investigation into fake text purporting to be from the BBC, as anonymous hoaxer adds names of survivors to list of confirmed dead.

An evacuee is screened for radiation exposure in the Fukushima prefecture, Japan, yesterday.
An evacuee is screened for radiation exposure in the Fukushima prefecture, Japan, yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Wally Santana

A HOAX TEXT MESSAGE claiming that radiation from Japan’s damaged Fukushima plant has been leaking beyond Japan has caused panic as the message spread across Asia.

There have been three explosions at the tsunami- and earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant in eastern Japan.

Although Japanese nuclear authorities have confirmed that some radiation has leaked from the plant, there is no suggestion that it has reached harmful levels beyond the local area.

The BBC reports that the text message was marked as originating from it, but the news organisation denies issuing any such alert.

The message caused particular concern in the Philippines. Government officials said there was no recommendation to heed the text warning and the science and technology secretary said the government would issue regular notices informing people of radiation levels.

Philippine investigators have been ordered to track down the origin’s of Monday’s message, the Philippine Star reports.

Falsely reporting deaths

Separately, an Australian family was convinced their daughter had died in the tsunami because someone had posted her name on a list of confirmed dead. They had listed her real name, the real name of a hospital and its phone number, but used a fake doctor’s name.

Her father Ashley Russell said: “There are some evil people out there. Her employer told me other people had suffered the same hoax as well.”

Russell’s daughter, Alice Byron, 21, said that although the hoax was hurtful, “in the scheme of this disaster” it pales in comparison with the pain other people are experiencing.

People have lost far more than I have, and I think the fact that a person had a hoax played on them, in the scheme of this disaster, is one of the most minor, insignificant things imaginable, even if it did cause my parents great hurt.

Disasters are known to trigger such scams; police in New Zealand warned people to be vigilant for people posing as local officials and pretending to be earthquake survivors in need of money.

- Additional reporting from the AP

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