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Thailand to give iodine pills to Japan travelers

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March 16, 2011 08:15 AM EST | AP


BANGKOK — Thai authorities say they will distribute medicine to citizens traveling to Japan to protect against radiation from damaged nuclear power plants.

The Health Ministry says that beginning Thursday, potassium iodide tablets will be given free to travelers flying to Tokyo from airports in Bangkok and Phuket. The government already warns against unnecessary travel to Japan.

Potassium iodide protects the thyroid gland against cancer by blocking absorption of radioactive iodine. Supplies in Japan have become short, and panic buying has been reported as far away as North America.

The government's National News Bureau says more than 70 percent of package tour bookings to Japan for March to May have been canceled.