Tabloid apologies for 'fake' claim over report of quake-zone soldiers cooking in muddy water
Deputy news editor at state-backed Global Times admits story on Weibo by state broadcaster China National Radio was true
China’s state-backed Global Times tabloid newspaper was caught up in controversy after its website alleged that a report of soldiers cooking noodles in muddy water while carrying out rescue work in quake-stricken Yunnan province had been fabricated.
Hao Junshi, a deputy news director of the newspaper’s website, has since apologised and admitted that its claim was wrong.
He posted a letter of apology on his Sina Weibo account, saying that the soldiers “have indeed eaten instant noodles cooked in muddy water”.
His apology has since been reposted on the newspaper website’s official Weibo account.
A post on Global Times’ website’s Weibo account on Tuesday sparked the controversy after it claimed – citing an official from the army – that the news of rescuers from People’s Liberation Army cooking noodles in muddy water was false. The same post also urged people not to believe the news, which, it said, would discourage rescuers.
However, China National Radio, the state broadcaster that originally posted the report on its Weibo account on Monday, responded to this claim with a new Weibo post by saying that its reporters in the quake-hit area had witnessed soldiers cooking with muddy water, and had also eaten the noodles with the soldiers.
The state broadcaster had reported on Monday that Longquan township was in urgent need of food and fresh water following Sunday’s magnitude-6.1 earthquake in southwestern China.
It reported that rescuers were being forced to cook their food in muddy water, and also posted pictures, which showed soldiers cooking noodles in muddy water.
This report was widely reposted on Weibo and picked up by other Chinese media.
Media reports have said that relief efforts in the area have been hampered by landslides and blocked roads.
By this morning, the official death toll had reached 589, with nine people still missing and 2,401 wounded.
In response to Global Times’ allegation, a reporter from the state broadcaster, who had reported the original story, wrote that there had not been enough fresh water for rescue workers since Monday – the day after the quake struck. He said rescuers and survivors had queued up to obtain muddy water to cook their instant noodles.
Another reporter also confirmed this.
Hao wrote on Weibo that he apologised to reporters at China National Radio and also Tencent video, which had posted a video showing soldiers cooking their food using muddy water.
The state broadcaster responded to the apology with a post, saying that hearsay was not something responsible media should be reporting. It also said reporting such rumours would make the public misunderstand the seriousness of the disaster and could affect emergency relief reaching the quake-stricken area.