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Man arrested for spreading false rumors of explosions

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A man was yesterday transferred to the prosecution for posting false news of potential gas leaks and explosions on the internet.

In the wake of the recent explosions that rocked Kaohsiung city and tore up several blocks, many have shared their fears and concerns on social networks as the possible source of the explosions, propene, has not yet been fully drained from the underground pipes.

Yesterday, a man posted on Facebook stating that he saw a stretch of bumpy pavement in Kaohsiung's Zuoying District and claimed it was due to the pipes below. Surnamed Tsai, the 31-year-old also called for netizens to be aware of the possibility of explosions on said street.

Tsai's claims were soon found to be false as he was arrested by the police and questioned. In his Facebook post, Tsai had first described the rescue work being carried out by the police and the firemen, and then stressed that he “saw with his own eyes that the police were evacuating the people and asking cars to change their routes.” His post was shared by many online, all of whom stated that their fear escalated.

The police, headed off by other netizens, discovered nothing faulty with the pipes after investigating, and returned to question Tsai. Tsai admitted that he had posted the claims, but stated that he was only “sharing what friends mentioned in a conversation, because (he) believed it was true and wanted to alert the people.”

“I didn't know that posting this would be against the law,” said Tsai.

Tsai had violated the law as he “disrupted the peace” with his false claims, said the police, who later transferred him to the Kaohsiung District Court to await possible punishment. The police also called for people to refrain from joking or spreading rumors about serious issues, especially soon after incidents like the said explosions.

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