False alarms about earthquakes in NRW startle thousands of people

False alarms about earthquakes in NRW startle thousands of people

EA hoax about an imminent one earthquake in North Rhine-Westphalia drove several thousand people outdoors on Wednesday night. The warning spread via social media, especially in the Romanian communities in various cities, the police said. Emergency services struggled to calm people down. Some would have stood outside for hours for fear of collapsing houses, others would have wanted to sleep in their cars.

“People rang each other out of bed to warn each other,” said a police spokeswoman in Duisburg. Around 1000 people were finally on the streets in Duisburg alone. “We tried to calm people down. But many were really, really scared.” There were also many emergency calls to the police in Hagen. “Callers were massively concerned because they had this alert on their phones,” a spokeswoman said. In Cologne, around 500 people gathered in the parking lots around a large high-rise complex.

Source of the hoax unknown

The officials finally drove loudspeaker trucks through some streets to tell worried people that the earthquake warning was simply a fake. “However, many only dared to return to their apartments well after 2.45 a.m. – the time when the earthquake was supposed to take place,” said the police spokeswoman.

Where the warning of an impending earthquake in NRW had its origin was still unclear to the police on Wednesday. “This is of course an absolutely disgraceful false report,” said a spokesman for the state control center. “Fortunately there were no injuries in the panic in the stairwells.”

“It’s not possible to make a precise forecast for earthquakes anyway,” emphasizes Sebastian Busch, Head of Geophysics at the North Rhine-Westphalia State Earthquake Service. Experts can only work with statistical probabilities: according to this, there is an earthquake with a magnitude of 6 every 100 to 150 years in the Lower Rhine Bay. The last major quake was in 1992 with a magnitude of 5.9 – the epicenter was in Roermond at the time. “We know that something like this will happen again at some point. But no one can say it happened at 2:45 a.m. tonight,” Busch said.

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