Peace Time: The Sound Of Panic

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February 26, 2009: In early February, a military exercise in southern China (near Hengyang in Hunan province) panicked over 100,000 people into fleeing their homes. It seems that the large bombs dropped by aircraft during the exercise caused homes near the air force bombing range, to vibrate. Mindful of the well publicized earthquakes in central China last May (that killed 90,000 people), the rumor began that the vibrations were the beginning of another series of violent earthquakes. Because so many people have cell phones (and because there was no earthquake, phone service was not interrupted), the word got around to a large area and entire villages and neighborhoods began to empty out. It took two days for officials to convince everyone that it was safe to go home.

Local officials have asked the air force to publicize future exercises featuring large bombs.

 


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