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BB message claiming SVG under tsunami watch bogus – NEMO

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If you think sending out bogus information about a disaster here is funny, be warned: you can be charged.{{more}}

The Act that establishes the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) provides for persons to be charged if they falsely declare a national disaster.

NEMO Director Howie Prince made the point to SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

He was asked about a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) broadcast disseminated Tuesday night after the occurence of a magnitude 4.4 earthquake east of St Vincent.

NEMO said Wednesday it had not received any reports of injury or damage in relation to the quake.

The BBM warned that this country was under a tsunami watch and attributed the information to NEMO.

NEMO said via its Facebook page that it had not issued any such warning. Several posts on the page asked if the tsunami warning was true.

“We don’t use BlackBerry to disseminate information. It is a hoax and has been done before,” Prince told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

“If there is any reason to alert people …, it would be LIME and Digicel that will send out that information, using their own systems.

“What we would do, we would collaborate with them and they would use their mechanisms and their technologies to broadcast information if we think it is necessary,” Prince explained.

He said NEMO “hardly ever” wants to send messages to smartphones “because people can in fact be sending out hoaxes and bogus information.

“If they are caught, they will be prosecuted. If we find who they are, the laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines give us the authority to prosecute anybody who declares a disaster when there is no authentic disaster happening.

“Anybody who incites the public into believing that there is such a situation commits a crime under the Act No. 15 of 2006, … the Act that established NEMO,” Prince further said.

Meanwhile, he said that NEMO uses its Facebook page to disseminate information and to receive feedback.

“We use it to try to improve our own functioning, by listening to the feedback we get from people and try to utilise it in bettering, in improving our operations,” Prince said. (KXC)