On Saturday, February 12, 1949, a radio station in Quito, Ecuador, broadcast a War of the Worlds-like drama that made it sound like Martians were invading. Part of the drama said that the aliens had landed 20 miles away from the city and were gassing the population.
From a production point of view, the broadcast sounded pretty realistic, even though the program also included disclaimers, pointing out that this was a work of fiction. But the people of Quito didn’t get the joke. They really thought the Martians had landed and spilled into the streets in panic.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people fled up into the mountains. Then they realized that it was all just a radio play. Instead of going home, hundreds marched on the station where they threw rocks and eventually set the building on fire. In the confusion, twenty people died and more than fifty were injured, some very seriously. The power of radio, huh?