Taiwanese broadcaster CTS issued an apology Wednesday after mistakenly running alerts of a Chinese missile attack during the morning news program. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE
April 20 (UPI) -- A Taiwanese television station has apologized after issuing erroneous reports of Chinese missile attacks during its morning broadcast on Wednesday, which spurred concern online.
Public broadcaster CTS ran a series of alerts on a news ticker during its early news program, including two that read, "New Taipei City hit by People's Liberation Army ground force missiles" and "Vessel explodes in Taipei Harbor, facilities and ships destroyed," local media reported.
Other alerts said that Chinese special forces had planted explosives at a railway station and that Taiwan's president had declared a state of emergency.
Worry about the reports spread quickly on social media and in online forums, prompting the broadcaster to issue an on-air correction and post a statement on its Facebook page telling viewers not to panic.
CTS later issued an extended apology, explaining that the emergency alerts were part of a disaster prevention video the station had prepared at the request of the New Taipei City Fire Department and were mistakenly inserted on the crawl during the live broadcast.
The station said that it would conduct an internal oversight investigation and there would be "severe punishment" for those responsible for the error.
Taiwan's culture ministry also issued an apology, saying the mistake "never should have happened" and calling for an incident report from CTS.
Part of the reason for the alarm on Wednesday is that there have been fears in Taiwan for two months about possible military action from China in view of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Beijing considers the democratic, self-governing island a breakaway province and has promised to retake it by force, if necessary.
Last week, the Taiwanese military released an illustrated civil defense handbook that included information about what to do in the event of a Chinese invasion.
China has kept up a steady stream of aircraft flights through Taiwan's air defense identification zone over the past several months and has conducted provocative gestures such as beach landing drills in a nearby province. Beijing has also bristled at moves by the United States to show support for the island in the wake of the Russian invasion.
Last Friday, China sent frigates, bombers and fighter planes to the East China Sea and the area around Taiwan during a visit to Taipei by a U.S. congressional delegation led by Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
The exercise was "organized in response to the frequent release of wrong signals by the United States on the Taiwan issue recently," a spokesman for the Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.