people in Xingtai, North China’s Hebei Province received penalties for
spreading rumors about the flood that struck the city last week,
including exaggerating the death toll, the city’s publicity department
announced on its official Sina Weibo account on Tuesday.
According to the release, a 35-year-old man surnamed Hou is being
detained for five days for posting claims on Baidu Tieba forum that the
Xingtai flood was caused by the intentional discharge of water from
several reservoirs. Meanwhile, a 30-year-old woman surnamed Shan, who
claimed on her WeChat account that more than 700 people were killed in
Xingtai, will face an administrative penalty. Finally, a 27-year-old
woman surnamed Shi, who posted an exaggerated death toll of the disaster
on her Weibo account, has been ordered to receive legal education.
According to an amendment to China’s Criminal Law that took effect in
November, those who publish false, alarmist claims about natural
disasters or police actions or those who deliberately spread rumors on
the Internet about such matters can be held in prison for up to three
years if the false information disrupts social order. Those whose rumor
mongering causes serious consequences can be put behind bars for three
to seven years.