Passengers on board the ferry that capsized off the coast of South Korea Wednesday supposedly sent heartbreaking text messages to their loved ones. But now South Korean police are saying hundreds of those messages are fake.
"Adding to the families' confusion, authorities in South Korea say that there have been fake texts and social media posts, supposedly from people claiming to be inside the ferry. But they're fake." (Via HLN)
South Korean police made the announcement on their official Twitter account Thursday. "An investigation from the Police Cyber Terror Response Center verified that all texts in question are fake. Please stop such actions that are causing pain to the families of missing passengers. The malicious distributors of these texts will be strictly dealt with."
Several of the country's news outlets released the messages in question Wednesday, shortly after the ship and the 425 people on board began sinking. (Via Euronews)
"'Dad, don't worry, I've got a life vest on, and we're huddled together.' Her father replied, 'I know the rescue is underway, but make your way out if you can.'" (Via Fox News)
The Korea Herald quotes Korea's Cyber Terror Response Center as saying investigators analyzed the phone records of the 271 people still missing in the disaster.
Investigators concluded that none of the missing passengers sent any texts or made any calls after the ferry went down. (Via MSNBC)
These reportedly fabricated messages are adding to the growing sense of frustration and mistrust surrounding the handling of the search for survivors since the ship capsized.
As Time's headline aptly puts it, the despair felt by the loved ones of the missing quickly turned to anger as families began to point fingers at the captain and crew.
Several reports indicate they told the hundreds of passengers to stay put as the ferry sank further and further into the water. (Via The Washington Post)
A suspect is reportedly under investigation for sending the fake messages, but police would not release any further details on the incident. They did say those responsible for the hoax will face criminal charges.