Ecuador Trivia: The Day a UFO landed in Cotocollao Ecuador, six dead

Posted on February 26, 2014 • Filed under: Culture, Ecuador, Ecuador Trivia reported that when the green men from Mars landed in the central plaza of Cotocollao, Ecuador, a stunned nation listened as one of the country’s most famous radio personalities was vaporized by a death-ray, and firefighters and police rushed to the sleepy village to confront the invaders. “Once more a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ imaginative novel, ‘The War of the Worlds,’ had convinced a gullible citizenry that the earth’s gig was up,” the magazine reported. But in the tiny Andean nation of Ecuador, the stunt was pulled off so convincingly that even the authorities seem to have fallen for the story — with tragic results.

Jorge Ribadeneira was 19 when Radio Quito staged its own version of the alien invasion. It was Saturday night, and the station was broadcasting a live concert when the musicians were interrupted to announce that an enormous cylindrical object had crashed just north of the capital. Moments later, Leonardo Paez, one of Quito’s best known musicians and radio personalities, was rushed to the scene. As Paez broadcast “live” from Cotocollao’s central plaza, a long “green arm” emerged from the alien craft, and then Paez was fried by a bolt of light.

What is known is that on the night of Feb. 12, 1949, the city was seized by panic as the show kept upping the stakes. Radio Quito patched in other broadcasters who were also “reporting” the arrival of alien craft, and an actor playing the archbishop of Quito only fueled the hysteria. But there were also real acts that added to the effect. With President Galo Plaza Lasso out of town, someone apparently ordered police and firefighters to head to Cotocollao. The Red Cross followed suit, according to Ribadeneira, who wrote a brief history of the event.

It didn’t take long for the radio station to realize that it had overplayed its hand, but when it shut down the show and tried to reassure the audience it was just a dramatization, it only enraged the crowd. Soon, a mob surrounded the radio station in downtown Quito, which also housed El Comercio newspaper, and set it ablaze. Read Article


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