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Thousands Of Tajiks Sleep Outside As After Earthquake Rumor

People in Dushanbe slept outside, fearing being trapped by collapsing buildings.
DUSHANBE -- Tajik officials are trying to find the source of a rumor that led tens of thousands of Tajiks in four major cities to spend the night on the streets in freezing temperatures because of reports of an imminent earthquake.

The rumor that a very strong and destructive earthquake would happen overnight on January 10-11 spread in the cities of Khujand, Kulob, Kurghonteppa, and the capital, Dushanbe.

People panicked and tens of thousands spent the night sleeping outside in tents and makeshift shelters.

Some say they left their homes after receiving phone calls from friends about the earthquake. One woman told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that her relatives called from the United States to warn her about the earthquake.

Tajik journalists say that government tried to intervene and calm people down but that it had little success.