Thousands of Malawian families spend night outside following bogus earthquake warnings

January 17, 2015 2:43 am 

LILONGWE, Jan. 17 — Tension, fear and anxiety washed across Malawi Thursday night following bogus earthquake warnings that went viral on the social media forcing thousands of families to fled their houses and spend the night in the open.

The threats started circulating Thursday evening via the social media such as Whatsapp, Facebook and SMS warning everyone to stay out during the night because "a very devastating earthquake is going shake the whole country."

The warning said the quake would occur between 11 p.m. and 2 a. m. local time.

Source of the warning was not indicated but the warning went viral and within hours it spread to almost all the corners of the country.

As the countdown drew close, there was tension as distant friends and relatives phoned each other; and neighbors knocked on each other's doors calling them to evacuate to the open ground.

"About ten families gathered at a school ground from as early as 9:30 p.m. to around 4 a.m., men, women and children anticipating the great shake," one family member in the capital, Lilongwe, told Xinhua.

But he said at day break the tension and anxiety waned off and they all returned to their respective homes.

Reports from Blantyre down south, and Mzuzu up north indicated same fears.

But Deputy Director for the Department of Geological Survey in the country, Jeff Salima, told a local radio that the threats were a hoax saying there was "no technology in the world that could precisely predict an earthquake of that magnitude."

Meanwhile, the tension has normalized and the matter is still being debated in the media. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/RSM

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