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Radio Play Creates Panic in Finland

December 30, 1985|From Reuters

HELSINKI, Finland — A radio play about a nuclear clash between the superpowers caused panic when it was broadcast in Finland on Sunday.

Broadcasting officials said switchboards were jammed with calls from listeners convinced that the world was on the brink of nuclear holocaust after hearing the U.S. play, "The Next War." The drama won awards as the best U.S. radio play of 1984, they said.

Health centers in many parts of Finland reported that many people needed treatment for shock.

The broadcasting officials said they were astonished at the play's impact and expressed regret that it had been broadcast, but they emphasized that announcements were made before, during and after the drama that the content was fictional.

The play, which used regular announcers to heighten the realism, contained a passage reporting exceptionally high atmospheric radioactivity and informing the public that a statement was expected shortly from the President of the United States. It was this passage that started the panic, the officials added.

A play on interplanetary warfare by H.G. Wells, called "The War of the Worlds," caused a similar reaction when it was broadcast in the United States by Mercury Theatre of the Air in 1938.

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