More than 200 fled in panic, with eleven hospitalised and another suffering a heart attack
Five German holidaymakers in Catalonia have been arrested after their attempts to start a flashmob on a Barcelona beach were mistaken for a terrorist attack. Posing as paparazzi photographers carrying tripods and chasing after a fictitious celebrity, their antics sparked a full-scale terror alert in the Platja d’Aro resort.
The group burst onto the scene at 10pm on August 2nd carrying selfie sticks which were confused by tourists on the busy waterfront as weapons. Before long, a stampede of 200 people was running from the presumed terrorist attack. In the panic, at least 11 people suffered injuries and one man had a heart attack.
Others hid under restaurant tables or barricaded themselves inside shops and restaurants, lighting up the local police switchboard when the emergency number 112 was dialled more than 100 times within the first few seconds of the prank. Footage of the panic was shared quickly on social media.
When the Mossos d’Edquadra, the Catalonian police service, finally arrived on the scene, chairs were being thrown around and traffic had been completely diverted. Officers quickly calmed the situation, arresting the five, who are adult chaperones to a group of travelling German teenagers.
The timing of the flashmob, which comes not long after July 14th’s deadly attack on the Nice seafront left 84 dead, has been widely criticised by Spanish authorities. Praising the reaction of the police service, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont tweeted “There are jokes which are not permissible.”
Local authorities later posted a “warning to idiots” on Twitter, announcing that “simulating an attack and faking a terror alter can be a crime.” The offenders could potentially be facing a three-month prison sentence, they added.