Hoax tsunami call leads to thousands fleeing their homes

Published on : Sunday, December 1, 2013

typhoonMANILA, Philippines – A hoax call about an impending tsunami led to abut a thousand traumatized survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) fleeing their homes in Antique following rumors of a tsunami, civil defence officials said Sunday, December 1.

 

Antique officials were visiting upland villages where people had fled overnight to convince them there was no danger and it was safe to return to their coastal homes, said Broderick Train, the civil defence chief for the province.

 

“These are people traumatized by their experience with Typhoon (Haiyan). When the false alarm began spreading Friday they immediately fled,” he told AFP in a telephone interview.

 

He said the provincial government was trying to convince them to return home as there had been no earthquake to trigger a tsunami. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it had not recorded any big earthquakes over the weekend and had not issued any tsunami alert.

 

Train said officials had yet to find out who spread the false alert that triggered evacuations in the small coastal towns of Laua-an, Culasi, Sebaste, Barbaza, Tibiao and Pandan.

 

Leck Benitez, spokesman for Antique’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told AFP it was likely criminals had spread the rumours by mobile telephone text messages.

 

“When people leave their homes they become targets for break-ins,” Benitez added.

 

Benitez said the towns where evacuations were reported had been hard-hit by Haiyan, which struck the central Philippines on November 8 with winds of up to 315 kilometres (195 miles) an hour.

 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said the typhoon, along with tsunami-like storm surges that struck the islands of Samar and Leyte, killed at least 5,632 people, with 1,759 still missing.

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