The British broadcaster BBC on Friday admitted it is the victim of a hoax report that US giant Dow Chemicals had accepted responsibility for India's Bhopal disaster and set up a multi-billion-dollar compensation fund.
Thousands were killed instantly on December 3, 1984 when the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal disgorged 40 tonnes (44 tons) of lethal methyl isocyanate gas into the air, in one of the world's worst environmental disasters.
Dow Chemicals, which took over Union Carbide, has long insisted that all liabilities regarding Union Carbide's Bhopal gas leak were settled with the Indian government.
Early Friday, on the 20th anniversary of the disaster, the BBC quoted a man alleging to be a Dow Chemicals spokesman saying the US giant had done an about-face and was taking full responsibility for Bhopal.
Dow Chemicals would start a 12-billion-dollar (nine-million-euro) fund "to finally at long last fully compensate the victims including the 120,000 who may need medical care", the speaker, who called himself Jude Finisterra, told the BBC.