Magnitude 8 quake story: a hoax-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
THREE moderately strong aftershocks rudely roused us from sleep early Sunday morning.
Two or three more occurred on the same day but the rudest jolt didn’t come from any one of them or of the earlier three but from a “News Alert” that read:
“A MUST READ as of Oct. 20, 2013 via TV5: Phivolcs reported that there is a blind fault line located in Sagbayan, Bohol. If the west valley fault will move, they expect all Visayan especially Boholanos to prepare for the 8.0 magnitude. Let’s pray for our safety guys especially those who live in Bohol. They need our help through prayers.
Please spread so that we will be aware of this…”
The “News Alert” was first posted in a Facebook account under the name of actress Jodi Sta. Maria. The post was deleted Sunday evening but not after so many other Facebook users have re-posted (shared) it on their own FB pages. It was also circulated through text messages.
Because the Cebuanos and Boholanos were already jittery from the day’s aftershocks, they took the “News Alert” seriously without verifying its authenticity. Before dark fell Sunday, M8 (Magnitude 8) was on the lips of almost everyone.
TV5 quickly moved to dispel the rumors, denying through two statements, one in Tagalog, the other English, that it was the source of the “report”. Here’s the English version of the statement:
“MANILA–-TV5 management on Sunday evening categorically disclaimed news reports shared on social media and that attributed to the network supposed information about an impending earthquake that could the Visayas region.
“The supposed report apparently stitched together information that surfaced in two earlier Phivolcs briefings: one on the West Valley fault that runs through a portion of Metro Manila; and the other on a little-known fault that Phivolcs had earlier said exists in Sagbayan, Bohol, one of the areas hardest-hit by the Oct. 15 magnitude 7.2 quake that killed 185 people in three Visayas provinces.
“The Phivolcs has reiterated that no one can predict earthquakes.
“The erroneous reports, which spread on social media Sunday, began in a Facebook account using the name of actress Jodi Sta. Maria.”
So the supposed TV5 report was a hoax. Whoever started it may not have been necessarily malicious. He or she or may have been, as Sun.Star Cebu sports editor Mike Limpag put it, “kuwang sa reading comprehension.” He or she must have read the following report, dated Oct. 17, by Interaksyon:
“If it moves, energy from the West Valley Fault – which runs from San Mateo in Rizal to Taguig City – may result in a quake that is about as powerful as the one that struck Central Visayas and parts of Mindanao on Tuesday. The quake from the West Valley Fault may reach magnitude 7.2 and may hit Intensity 8 (Phivolcs head Renato) Solidum said, clarifying that they were not out to scare people.”
But because he/she was reading-comprehension-challenged, he/she concluded that the West Valley Fault was in Bohol, tying it up with another Phivolcs report about another fault in Sagbayan. To quote Mike again, he/she jumped-checked-rode a rocket to conclusion.
The lesson here is do not believe everything you hear or read. Check with the source. And use your common sense.
In the M8 hoax for example, we should have considered that no one and no gadget, instrument or equipment can predict the intensity of an earthquake and the exact time and place of its occurrence. We will know that it is there when it is already happening. We should live with that rather than worry about wild predictions.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2013.