Chinese authorities have admitted accidentally reporting two major earthquakes that had never happened but were instead drills unintentionally released to the public.
Late on Thursday, China’s earthquake administration said on its website there had been two 6.5-magnitude quakes just 10 seconds apart at opposite ends of the country – in the far-western region of Xinjiang and the south-western province of Yunnan.
The information stayed on the administration’s website for at least an hour, though did not appear on its microblog, which is how many people in China first learn of quakes.
On Friday, in a statement on its website, the administration said it had in fact been holding an emergency response exercise.
“An accidental leak of the quake drill was picked up by the media and caused a misunderstanding,” it said. “After this happened, our administration immediately organised relevant departments to delete the inaccurate information.”
China is a seismically active country frequently hit by major earthquakes. In May 2008, a 7.9-magnitude quake rocked the south-western province of Sichuan, killing almost 90,000 people.