Tele2, a Latvia-based cellular phone operator, stated on Monday, October 26, that it had launched a hoax news message about the meteorite that supposedly hit the ground near the town of Mazsalaca.
Janis Sprogis, the marketing director of the company, said at a news conference that the action had been arranged to inspire the Latvian society and prove that the small Baltic nation could make front page headlines all over the world within 24 hours.
Latvia has been in the news lately as a country, the economy of which was rolling down the hill because of the financial crisis. The meteorite news gave the nation an opportunity to be publicized from the point of view of something unusual and positive, the official added.
Sprogis also said that he would like to apologize to everyone who disliked or was greatly disappointed with the company’s sham. He stated that the company would compensate all costs that may arise in connection with the incident.
“We will compensate everything; the state funds will not be spent here, I can guarantee that,” Interfax quoted the official as saying.
Janis Sprogis’s official statement followed the statement from Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister Linda Murniece. The minister promised that the people responsible for fake news about the meteorite would be punished.
When the minister was informed about the official statement from Tele2, she said that it was an act of mockery against common people and the nation’s special services.
“We already count the loses. Unfortunately, the money will not be able to compensate the fact that Tele2 committed an act of mockery against the people and special services of the country,” the minister told BNS news agency.
A Latvian official representing the country’s law-enforcement agencies did not specify, whether the people, who staged the news, would be called into criminal account for their actions.
Experts rushed to the site after reports that an object had crashed late Sunday near the Estonian border, causing a 27-foot-wide, 9-foot-deep crater.
"It's artificial, dug by shovel," said Girts Stinkulis, a geologist at the University of Latvia said after an investigation Monday.
Dainis Ozols, a nature conservationist, said he believes someone tried to make it look like a meteor crater by burning a pyrotechnic compound inside it, the Associated Press reports.
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