Over 7,000 panic-stricken villagers of Chaba and surrounding communities in Chilubi District on Tuesday spent their night in the cold after word went round that an earthquake will hit the Island on Bangweulu.

Some residents prayed and sang songs of praise, while others publicly confessed their criminal activities, fornication, adultery and witchcraft among other sins, and asked God to forgive them.

Patriotic Front (PF) Katamba ward councillor on the Chilubi mainland Ernest Chanda said the incident happened after some people spread a story of an impending natural calamity.

Chanda explained that one of the residents allegedly received a phone call from a friend in Luwingu who told them an earthquake, which was experienced in neighbouring Botswana, had struck Luwingu district; leaving several houses damaged, 2,000 people dead and was headed towards Chilubi.

He narrated that the informer who received a call decided to put his phone on loud and requested the caller to repeat what he had said so that others could hear for themselves.

Chanda said immediately he hang up, the ‘informed’ villagers took to the streets warning residents against sleeping in their houses that night, as there was an earthquake accompanied by a strong wind approaching Chilubi mainland.

He said upon hearing the news, residents, including mothers with babies on their backs, stormed out of their houses and camped at various points which they assumed to be safe and went straight into confessions.

“Some residents went to Chaba day secondary school ground, while others rushed to Chaba habour so that immediately earthquake strikes they could paddle into Lake Bangweulu,” Chanda narrated.

He said as residents were gathered, some of them prayed loudly while others confessed their sins that they are thieves, fornicators, adulterous and asked God to forgive them.

Chanda added that at Chaba market, the businessmen and women kept vigil on their merchandise, to keep away looters.

He said it took his initiative to convince the villagers that the news was false, as others did not want to go back into their houses.