An SMS that has been making the rounds warns that radiation from Japan reaching Singapore has turned out to be a hoax.
The text message claims to be a news flash from BBC news, advising people to remain indoors.
"A nuclear power plant in Fukumi, Japan exploded at 4:30 AM today. If it rains tomorrow or later, don't go outside. If you are outside, be sure that you have rain protectors. It's acid rain. Don't let it touch you. You may burn your skin, lose your hair or have cancer. Please pass, stay safe and remind everyone you know.
The hoax originated in the Philippines and has been circulating here.
Nuclear experts in the Philippines were quick to debunk the rumour. In a statement, the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) also said radiation levels in the Philippine atmosphere were normal as of Monday (Mar 14) and showed “no increase” since the nuclear plants in Fukushima reported sustaining damage in their reactors.
Such hoaxes could cause unnecessary panic and fear. Some who saw the message on Facebook sensed it was a hoax and slammed its senders for causing panic. One Facebook user, Felicia Jieling posted on citizen journalism website STOMP: "Idiots with nothing better to do can consider going to Japan to assist them, instead of stupidly sending such crap SMS to create mass panic."
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that Singapore would not be affected by radioactive rain because Japan's nuclear reactors were located 5,000 kilometres away - a radiation shower would require a complete meltdown of Japan's reactors.
Even in the worst scenario, Singapore would still have official advanced warnings. Dr Benjamin Sovacool, assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told a local news website that it would take days or weeks for a radioactive cloud to reach Singapore.
Members of the public are advised not to circulate such messages without verifying their accuracy.