The government of the Maldives has complained after the UK’s Daily Telegraph website carried a satirical blog post saying the island nation is to be omitted from the Times Atlas of the World.
The supposed omission was said to be due to impending climate change.
The low-lying islands of the Maldives are at risk from rising sea levels.
The spoof blog post was taken seriously by several media outlets in the Maldives.
The Telegraph blog post was written by a climate change sceptic, James Delingpole.
On Monday, scientists said the new edition of the Times Atlas had exaggerated the scale of ice-cover reduction in another part of the world, Greenland.
Mr Delingpole’s blog said the next edition of the famous atlas would continue what he called its “Climate Change alarmism”, by completely erasing some very low-lying areas – the Maldives, Tuvalu and “major parts of Bangladesh”.
He quoted a fictitious “spokesman” for the atlas as saying that in map-making, “emotional truth” was more important than actual truth.
Some Maldivian websites and newspapers took the satirical blog seriously.
An opposition politician sent out a mass text message blaming the Maldives’ president for the country’s omission from the map, because he’d staged events such as an underwater cabinet meeting.
A spokesperson for the atlas’s publisher, HarperCollins, has confirmed to a Maldives website, Minivan News, that the blog post was bogus.
The Maldives’ acting high commissioner in London has written to the newspaper’s editor seeking a clarification and apology.
He said the post had implied that his country’s climate change plight was a con-trick, and this, he said, was despicable and hurtful.
However, he added that Maldivians had as strong a sense of humour as anyone.
A Maldives government official told the BBC the Telegraph should not publish such “nonsense” under its brand name when it could be mistaken for news.
But he said Maldives newspapers should also confess to having been duped.