Two reporters, Aurel Rakipllari and Daniela Grica from online portal Syri.net and Shekulli respectively, were first detained and then released, and are under investigation by the police over the publication of a fake news regarding a possible powerful earthquake that would hit the country on Sunday evening, more specifically at 23:30, sparking panic and fear among people who stormed outside their homes. The spread of false information that causes panic is punishable by a fine up to 5 years in prison.
Daniela Grica pictured above
Aurel Rakipllari pictured above
The articles in question said that the country would be struck by a 6 magnitude apocalyptic earthquake citing Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis, whose interview with Top Channel was taken out of context, causing people to think he has predicted the date and time of the earthquake, thus causing citizens to immediately evacuate their homes. The pictures below reveals hundreds of citizens trying to leave the city and being stuck in traffic in the late hours of Sunday.
Earthquakes cannot be predicted but the aftershocks of Saturday’s quakes forced people to spend the night outside. Police said that it has set up a special investigation team to go to the bottom of the incident and urged people to not panic, keep their calm and ignore malignant news stories.
“Instead of a human solidarity, these reporters aimed to spreading panic and favoring all sorts of crime,” Minister of Interior Affairs Sander Lleshaj posted in Twitter.
Prime Minister Edi Rama posted a snippet of the article by syri.net, which published the fake news and called reporters criminals.
The Director of Syri.net, Bledian Koka took to Facebook to react, following the detainment of the two reporters from Syri.net and Shekulli, Grica and Rakipllari (pictures above), stating that the articles were a mistake but he rushes to blame the PM Edi Rama in an angry post where he rants that instead of paying attention to syri.net, and an article that may have been published in a rush, and under anxiety and pressure, he should have been instead trying to calm down the citizens who were already experiencing panic and anxiety due to the events of the last couple of days.
Monday morning, the Italian media Ticino wrote an article in regard to the incident which caused overwhelming panic among citizens, also echoing PM Rama’s words calling the act criminal.
Since the first 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the country on Saturday, Albania’s Institute of Geosciences, Energy, Water and Environment has recorded more than 340 aftershocks.These tremors injured 105 people and damaged hundreds of buildings. At least 600 houses built before the 1990s were damaged by the quake and caused temporary shortages of water and electricity supply in many areas. Authorities say that 98 schools have suffered damages in Tirana, Durres and Elbasan. Education Minister Besa Shahini said all schools would be closed Monday in Tirana, Durres and Elbasan. Article can be subject to update./Tiranapost.al/