China’s earthquake administration said on Friday that it had accidentally reported two major quakes which in fact had never happened, saying they were drills which had been unintentionally released to the public. Late on Thursday, the 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 in the southwestern province of Yunnan.
The information stayed on its website for at least an hour, though did not appear on its microblog, which is how many people in China first learn of quakes. In a statement on its website, the administration said they 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. A decade ago a 7.9 magnitude quake rocked the southwestern province of Sichuan, killing almost 70,000 people.