Chaos broke out in a town on Spain's Costa Brava after tourists and residents mistook a flash mob for a 'terrorist attack.' Five Germans accused of organizing the stunt now face criminal charges.
A flash mob is a seemingly spontaneous massing of people organized in advance over social media. But when 200 people answered its call at 10 p.m. Tuesday evening pretending to be paparazzi chasing a celebrity through the streets of Platja d'Aro, some people mistook the cameras and selfie sticks for weapons.
Mass panic ensued with hundreds running through the seaside town fearing for their lives. With more than a hundred calls to emergency services and paramedics treating about a dozen people with minor scrapes and bruises inflicted during the confusion, provincial authorities in Catalonia weren't laughing.
"When a person starts running, others also start running and then it's very difficult to stop," an unnamed municipal official told Spain's El Pais newspaper.
The province of Catalonia has been on a heightened alert since April. The relatively recent attacks in Nice and throughout Germany have left people and authorities on edge.
Five Germans allegedly involved in organizing the flash mob have since been arrested, the El Mundo newspaper in Madrid reported. They face charges of disturbing the public order.
jar/kl (dpa, El Pais)