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European ‘Pokemon Go’ fans told to stay off rail tracks and out of ER

'It's not worth risking your life for the sake of a game' says British railway

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 July, 2016, 12:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 July, 2016, 12:00pm

Europe's "Pokemon Go" fanatics have been warned against hunting for the creatures in locations including rail tracks and hospital emergency rooms and — just in case their hunts cause an accident — offered insurance.

Rail stations across Britain are running messages on customer information screens warning about the dangers of hunting Pokemon while commuting.

The screens read: "Enjoying 'Pokemon Go'? Please consider the following.

"Remember to stop, look and listen when approaching the railway.

"Concentrate — it's easy to get distracted by your phone, music or by catching Pokemon.

"It is illegal and very dangerous to trespass on a railway — don't risk it for a game."

"Pokemon Go" has proved hugely popular around the world, including in the UK, where it launched only a week ago. The game uses augmented reality, combining what you can see in real life with the virtual Pokemon world, using the GPS and camera on your phone.

The game has been praised for purportedly encouraging those with agoraphobia or depression out of the house, but reports suggest players have injured themselves while immersed.

Network Rail, the body that runs most of the rail network in Britain, said in a statement: "We would encourage people to always stay safe on or around the railway. Over the past week we have seen the 'Pokemon Go' craze sweep the county, but it's not worth risking your life for the sake of a game.

"Parents and children should think carefully about where they are using the app. The railways can be a dangerous place - trains travel at speeds of over 100mph — so stay alert."

On Thursday, Royal Stoke University Hospital in the UK requested that nobody play the game in its emergency room — or enter other parts of the hospital purely to hunt Pokemon.

"The Trust is currently unconcerned with people playing 'Pokemon Go' at Royal Stoke, as the hospital is a safe place to do so. However, clinical staff have stated categorically that no one should attempt to enter A&E to play the game," the hospital said.

"Members of the public who do not need to be at Royal Stoke should not attempt to enter A&E or any other part of the hospital building to play the game," it added.

Meanwhile, a major UK charity, has written to the UK division of game-maker Nintendo claiming the game raises "fundamental child safety concerns."

"Within days of your product launching, there have been numerous accounts of children being placed in dangerous situations because of the geo-location feature," Peter Wanless, the CEO of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, wrote in an open letter posted on the charity's website last week.

At least two European companies have stepped forward to offer Pokemon players insurance for injuries sustained while playing the game.

Sberbank is offering free accident insurance for Pokemon hunters in Moscow, allowing them to "concentrate on the game fully" and "get acquainted with such financial tools as insurance," according to the major Russian bank's website.

Portugal's Tranquilidade, meanwhile, claims to be the first insurance company in Europe to provide a product aimed at Pokemon hunters. The offer is valid until August 15 and covers players until the end of 2016. They will receive up to 5,000 euros (US$5,487) in the event of death or permanent disability and up to 500 euros (US$548 with a deductible of 75 euros, or US$82) towards medical treatment.

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