One of the world's most respected news agencies has created chaos and confusion with an appallingly worded tweet that strongly implied the plane carrying the bodies of MH17 victims had also crashed.
The Associated Press told its 3.5 million followers that the Dutch military plane "carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven".
It was missing a crucial comma between "crash" and "lands".
In Britain, the Press Association, the country's premier news agency, quickly repeated the "claim", hastily sending out a news alert that said: "The Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has reportedly crash landed in Eindhoven."
This was news for the plane's crew and those who had gathered in Eindhoven to meet the plane, which had safely landed minutes earlier.
It looks ok to us...
The Press Association then re-issued its news alert, this time saying: "The Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has landed in Eindhoven."
Never wrong for long...
The plane was greeted by Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte held a minute's silence as the first coffins came off.
A fleet of hearses was on hand to take the coffins onwards.
Within minutes of the AP tweet going out, nearly 2,000 people had retweeted it.
It didn't help that it came just after a tweet about an actual plane crash in Taiwan today, in which 51 people are reported to have died.
MORE: A report says the plane likely crashed during an attempt to make an emergency landing in the city of Magong: http://t.co/D3Uce50jnD
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 23, 2014
Scores of respected news organisations quickly tweeted similarly badly worded alerts - as the original AP tweet caused alarm in newsrooms around the world.
BREAKING: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from #Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven- AP report
— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) July 23, 2014
— todd byrne (@toddbyrne) July 23, 2014
Reuters Agency - which rivals AP for the title of world's most respected news agency - didn't fall for it and even laboured the point about how completely fine the plane was.
— Breaking News Travel (@breakingtravel) July 23, 2014
Some were quick to retract it.
Previous Tweet Clarification: military plane carrying bodies from MH17 crash safely lands in Eindhoven
— The WorldPost (@TheWorldPost) July 23, 2014
@ABC7 AP also tweeted this, it's confusing when people see "crash lands." I get now that "crash" goes with MH17 but still.
— Ryan Craig (@The206Ryan) July 23, 2014
A crash would have been a particularly bad fate for the bodies on the plane, which have already been mistreated at the MH17 crash site by the pro-Russian separatists believed to have shot it down.
At one point, families feared they could be used as "bargaining chip" by the separatists, who are facing enormous political fallout for their actions.
AP subsequently issued a statement explaining what had happened, saying it was "especially regrettable" given the timing.
The statement, posted to AP's blog, said: "This morning a poorly worded news alert moved on the AP wire and was also tweeted via @AP.
"Many readers understandably took it to mean the plane 'crash-landed.' We sought to clarify this as quickly as possible.
"This was an especially regrettable lapse that drew wide attention as Dutch families awaited the return of their loved ones’ remains."
Still, some had warm wishes for AP after what happened.
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) July 23, 2014
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