The mayor of a town in Jordan said Monday that a local newspaper's April Fools' Day report chronicling a late-night visit by 10-foot-tall aliens in flying saucers sparked public panic and almost led to the town's emergency evacuation.
The Al Ghad newspaper published a front-page article April 1 about the fake UFO landing near the desert town of Jafr, some 185 miles (300 kilometers) from the capital, Amman. The report said the UFOs lit up the whole town, interrupted communications and sent fearful residents streaming into the streets.
Jafr's mayor, Mohammed Mleihan, got caught up in the paper's prank and said he sent security authorities in search of the aliens.
"Students didn't go to school, their parents were frightened and I almost evacuated the town's 13,000 residents," Mleihan told The Associated Press. "People were scared that aliens would attack them."
A Jordanian security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss security issues, said an emergency plan was almost enacted in Jafr.
Mleihan said he may sue the daily for its "big lie," but added that the paper had called to apologize for the inconvenience caused by the joke.
Al Ghad's managing editor, Moussa Barhoumeh, tried to defuse the situation, saying the report has been "blown out of proportion."
"We meant to entertain, not scare people," he said.