Dominican Republic: Prank calls swamp emergency number

Advert of a police dispatcher Image copyright Twitter/Policia RD

Emergency services in the Dominican Republic are reeling from tens of thousands of prank calls that have swamped their new rapid response phone number.

The emergency call system received 84,404 calls in its first week of operation, of which only 2,203 were genuine, says presidential spokeswoman Zoraima Cuello. A full 61,505 calls - or 73% of the total - were from pranksters, the 7 Dias news site reports.

The rest of the calls were wrong numbers dialled, or people hanging up without saying anything. Ms Cuello says the nuisance callers could face fines of up to 30 months of pay on the minimum wage for obstructing the emergency services, and the authorities are chasing up the phone numbers involved. She adds some prank calls came from children, and has asked parents to discourage youngsters from abusing the system.

This is not the first time mass prank calls have made headlines. Tokyo police arrested a man in August for making 28,000 nuisance calls to the emergency services over 18 months. He says he was protesting against "excessive police attention", Japan Today reported at the time.

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