Days after one of the fiercest lightning storms on record struck Tokyo a mysterious black rain has fallen in Japan.
The rain, which looked like thin black paint, was not found to be radioactive and the cause of the strange colouration is currently being investigated.
Black rain is a particularly shocking sight for older Japanese, who remember a similar dark rain falling in the wake of the atomic bomb blasts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Japanese social media users shared photos of the bizarre phenomenon, with some saying it was “a little too scary” and “about as bad an omen as you can get these days.”
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The best explanation so far seems to be that a fire in a plastics factory in Hasuda, in northern Saitama, could have sent fine particles of ash high enough to have been washed down with a rainstorm.
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That hasn’t eased the minds of nervous Japanese social media users, tough.
One asked: “Didn’t North Korea fire missiles on that day?”
While another said: “It might not be fallout, but it’s probably hazardous, so be careful out there.”
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Black, yellow, green and even red rain has been recorded before.
In Kerala, India, in 2001 heavy downpours of blood-coloured rain fell for almost a month, staining washing red and alarming locals.
It was later estimated that 50,000kg (110,000 lbs) of the mysterious red substance had fallen on Kerala with the rain.
Scientists theorised that the rain might be associated with a comet fragment that broke up over the region, depositing extraterrestrial organic material in the atmosphere.
The idea that life is seeded among the stars by comets, panspermia, is common in science fiction and has been the subject of serious scientific study.
In 2003, Godfrey Louis and Santhosh Kumar, physicists at the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, Kerala, posted an article entitled "Cometary panspermia explains the red rain of Kerala”.
In 1876, a rain of raw meat fell from a clear sky onto farmland near the settlement of Olympia Springs in Bath County, Kentucky, in an incident that has never been fully explained .
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