Faaez Samadi
Aug 2, 2016

Mistaken earthquake alert sends Japan into panic mode

The country’s meteorological agency quickly apologised for the error, but not before many terrified Japanese had shared the message.

A screenshot of the Yurekuru false earthquake alert.
A screenshot of the Yurekuru false earthquake alert.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency has profusely apologised for an erroneous message sent from its official app claiming a massive earthquake had hit the Tokyo area.

The agency confirmed it accidentally sent out the alert from its Yurekuru disaster warning app yesterday afternoon, claiming a magnitude 9.1 quake had hit Tokyo. It immediately deleted the tweet just moments later.

However, the delay was long enough to send shockwaves of panic across the nation’s capital. People had shared the alert across Twitter within seconds, and according to reports some of Tokyo's train services were cancelled.  

Memories of the March 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake that set off a tsunami, killing 18,000 people and causing a nuclear meltdown, understandably loom large in the public consciousness.

More than 5 million people have downloaded the Yurekuru app since the 2011 incident.

The agency said it had received data from one of its seismometers east of Tokyo, which may have been hit by lightning. An apology was quickly issued through the app, which appeared to be well received by netizens.

Once it was clear there was no danger, others took to Twitter to make light of the agency’s mistake.

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