Ticked off at the misinformation, the paranoia, and the random SMS from complete strangers trying to “save your life”? Here’s a short and sweet list of five big rumours in the Philippines about the Japan crisis, and why they are untrue:
The tsunami from the Tohoku Kanto quake will reach Manila, and coastal areas surrounding Manila Bay should be evacuated.
Some people actually took this seriously enough to vacate some fairly large buildings close to Manila Bay (hint: the building’s name rhymes with Call of Acacia). However — as we all have seen, the waves reached a height of three feet, and that was pretty much it. It also did not reach Manila, and instead hit northern parts of the country such as Ilocos and Cagayan, and eastern parts such as Bicol.
The next time you receive a message like this via SMS, try looking at a world map, a globe, or Google Earth. If your coastal location is not anywhere near the quake’s epicenter, which could possibly take a direct hit from a tsunami, then there is no need to worry. Manila Bay (which is a sheltered cove BTW) for example, was shielded from the Japanese tsunami by a giant barrier called Luzon.
In the wake of the Japan quake, a 7.3M earthquake will strike the Philippines.
Nobody has been able to accurately predict an earthquake in all of human history, and that is not about to change. End of Story.
The nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant will fall on Manila as acid rain.
After the Great Tohoku Kantou Earthquake and Tsunami, SMS messages claiming to be citing information from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website stated that the rain that will fall in Manila over the next few days will be acidic, no thanks to the failing Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. These claims are completely untrue of course, because: 1) acid rain is caused by air pollution, not by radioactive particles; and 2) any radioactive particles from Fukushima will not be blown over to the Philippines due to prevailing weather patterns.
Think of it this way: if it’s winter in Tokyo, is it also winter in Manila? Of course not, because global weather patterns prevent the winds in Japan from reaching the Philippines (China, on the other hand, is another story). The same thing will happen with the way the radioactive particles in the air circulates in the atmosphere. To further put matters to rest, the BBC has also issued a statement denouncing claims that the original SMS rumour relied on supposedly accurate information from the broadcaster’s website. This rumour has officially been busted.
The current radiation levels in Tokyo are toxic, and foreigners should evacuate ASAP.
Radiation levels are dangerous only in the 20 km exclusion zone, and with Tokyo approximately 140 km away it is in no immediate danger. Also, despite reports that radiation levels in the city are 20 times the norm, that is probably no different from spending a few minutes getting zapped by x-rays prior to a major medical procedure, or a couple of hours in front of a TV or computer monitor playing MMORPGs.
Japanese food served in Manila is tainted by radiation.
Many of the fresh ingredients in Japanese cuisine such as fish and other seafood are sourced locally (Davao is actually one of the largest exporters of fresh seafood to Japan). Meanwhile, many of the products sold on store shelves have been shipped to Manila days and even weeks before the quake, so the chances of them being contaminated by radioactive particles from the Fukushima plant are slim to none.
Instead of wasting time and effort spreading these untrue messages on your social networks and phone list, why not do something worthwhile instead and donate to the disaster relief operations in Japan? Your money will be better-spent, and you would have saved a very real life instead of warning someone that “this is for your own good”.