13 March 2018

Malawi: Facebook Users Exagarated Quake Impact in Nsanje - Chief Malemia

Photo: The Nation
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Authorities in Nsanje have condemned the media in the country for blowing out of proportion news about earthquake that hit the district last Thursday.

Senior Chief Malemia said in an interview Monday that the social media users and the media organization owes the people of Nsanje an apology as they have been impacted negatively with the exaggerated news about the impact of the earthquake.

"As Chiefs, we are not happy with how the earthquake issue was treated by social media users and other media organizations. They exaggerated the impact. Just imagine some claiming that more houses were damaged, learners were injured due to classroom walls which fall on them.

"Information regarding disasters is very sensitive and they are supposed to be treated with the much needed care. They could have consulted the relevant authorities or wait to be provided with the most relevant information on the same," said Senior Chief Malemia.

He also blamed social media users who posted pictures which did not portray the real situation on the ground regarding the damage the earthquake brought in the district.

"Can you imagine someone posting a picture of the last Karonga earthquake on the social media and captioned it as the state of an area in Nsanje District after the earthquake? This is very bad and the people in Nsanje need to be respected. This is bad," fumed Senior Chief Malemia.

Senior Chief Malemia sentiments were echoed by the District Commissioner for Nsanje, Reinghard Chavula through a press statement dated March 10, 2018 entitled 'Clarification about the Earthquake which happened on March 8, 2018.

The statement reads: "After the incident occurred, social media and other channels of communication were filled with stories claiming that the earthquake has caused more damage to the district.

"Some even posted false pictures which aimed at convincing the general public that indeed Nsanje District has been greatly affected by the earthquake. Some media organization broadcast and published news items which were based on false evidence.

"Nsanje District Council would therefore like to inform the nation that only one house in the area of Senior Chief Malemia was affected by the earthquake. The council also wishes to inform the nation that no one was injured by the collapsing of walls of either school blocks or houses."

The Council's press statement appealed to the media institutions and social media users to make proper observations, consultations and follow ups with the relevant authorities when reporting and commenting on disasters.

"Lastly, Nsanje District Council is appealing with the general public not to exaggerate sensitive issues as it brings panic in all spheres," reads part of the statement.

Thursday, March 8 this month, Nsanje was one of the districts in the southern region which felt the impact of an earthquake which registered 5.4 magnitudes on the Richter scale.

According to the Geological Department, the earthquake which had a depth of 10 kilometers, originated from a fault in Mozambique which is North East of Nsanje District. The district experienced it heavily as it is near the epicenter of the earthquake.

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