JERUSALEM — A United Press International story on Thursday chronicling a series of accidents reportedly suffered by a man as the result of his wife's efforts to kill a cockroach cannot be substantiated.
"The story evidently is the result of a hoax," said Leon Daniel, UPI's managing editor for international news, in Washington. "We regret moving it on our wires."
UPI picked up the story, which was published by The Times, from the Jerusalem Post. The Post reported that an unidentified woman in a Tel Aviv suburb threw a cockroach into a toilet and sprayed insecticide in after it, that her husband was burned when a cigarette he was smoking ignited the insecticide fumes and that paramedics carrying him on a stretcher laughed so hard when they heard how he suffered his injuries that they dropped him, injuring him further.
Essentially the same story, in a U.S. setting, appears in a book about urban myths--fictitious tales that surface periodically, with minor variations, in the news media or by word-of-mouth.
Yoram Kessel, the Post's news editor, said he was unable to check the story Friday because of the Jewish Sabbath. He said he would look into the five-paragraph story and either "retract it or stand by it" later.
Efforts by UPI to confirm the story independently were unsuccessful.