'Prophet' faces fine for quake warning

AFP/April 29, 2011

Taipei - Taiwanese authorities have threatened to fine a self-proclaimed prophet unless he removes remarks from his blog predicting an "apocalyptic quake" that triggered panic preparations among numerous followers.

Lin Yeu-woo, a weather bureau spokesman, said: "Issuing unauthorised forecasts on earthquakes is punishable by a fine of up to Tw$1 million (R220 000)."

Dozens of Taiwanese have reportedly rushed to prepare makeshift shelters in central Taiwan after the man, known only as "Teacher Wang", alleged that a huge earthquake and tsunami would destroy the island in May.

About 170 shelters converted from cargo containers are currently being built in Puli, Nantou county, after Wang wrote on his blog that millions of people would die when the disasters strike on May 11.

Wang advised people to stay in cargo containers, which he said would be safer than regular buildings, and construction workers said they were rushing to finish by early May.

A local township official said the authorities could intervene with the construction project since "people have the right to build houses on a piece of land they legally rented".

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