Rumours Fly as China Quake Victims Seek News

Ben Blanchard reports in the Reuters:

The rumours are flying thick and fast after Monday’s quake in which more than 50,000 people may have died — and so far they have all proved to be unfounded.

One says a dam has collapsed and will kill thousands. Another that a chemical factory has exploded. The main highways linking cities have been closed indefinitely, says another. And then there is the one that another huge earthquake is on the way.

All have been spread by word of mouth, online, by text message and telephone calls. With power out and mobile telephone communication patchy, the government has a new battle on its hands trying to control disinformation.

China’s carefully controlled state media has swung into action, giving often live and sometimes dramatic accounts of the situation on the ground, in stark contrast to previous disasters where obfuscation and cover-ups were the norm.

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