Published November 17, 2014
PULI, Taiwan -- A self-proclaimed Taiwanese "prophet" started the countdown Tuesday for what he said would be a huge earthquake, as workers moved tons of bottled water and other supplies to makeshift shelters.
"The final countdown has started," Wang Chao-hung, better known to his followers and the public as "Teacher Wang," said in the central Taiwanese town of Puli, home to about 80,000 people.
The 54-year-old said a 14-magnitude killer quake would strike the island at 10:42:37 local time Wednesday, killing at least one million people.
"It will have enormous consequences for most countries around the Pacific," Wang added.
Five days later, the island, together with many parts of the Pacific, will be hit by a tsunami featuring 560-foot waves, he warned.
In expectation of the cataclysmic events, he set up a shelter in Puli, converting more than 30 cargo containers into makeshift homes and stockpiling them with enough rice, bottled water and fuel to last for several weeks.
As of late Tuesday, it was unclear whether Wang persuaded anyone to move into the containers, but the otherwise quiet town did attract dozens of journalists.
Wang advised people to stay in cargo containers, which he claimed would be safer than regular buildings after the prophesied catastrophe.
However, the prediction also prompted prosecutors to launch an investigation into an alleged fraud case.
Investigators were checking whether Wang might be cooperating with businesses in the container industry, a charge he flatly denied.
Fraud convictions carry a maximum five-year jail term, while breaking the law on social order is punished by a fine of up to $1,049, prosecutors said.
A weather bureau spokesman added that "issuing unauthorized forecasts on earthquakes is punishable by a fine" of up to $35,000.