Radio Station Sorry for Killing Off Queen, 99 Others

Obituaries mistakenly published during RFI website work
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2020 10:36 AM CST
Radio Station Sorry for Killing Off Queen, 99 Others
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II looks on from the balcony of the Foreign Office, during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, in Whitehall, London, on Nov. 8, 2020.   (Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

Dozens of political leaders, cultural figures, and celebrities did not die en masse on Monday, though anyone perusing the website of Radio France Internationale might have thought otherwise. Obituaries for roughly 100 people were mistakenly published—and some automatically picked up by partner sites such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN—as the radio station switched its content management systems, per BBC News and the Guardian. The obituaries—which news outlets often prepare in advance and update at the time of death—named figures ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to soccer legend Pelé to actor Clint Eastwood. They were up for several hours before the station apologized and began removing them, reports the New York Times. "We offer our apologies to the people concerned and to you who follow and trust us," RFI said in a statement.

It was the third time that the death of French businessman Bernie Tapie was mistakenly reported. French newspaper Le Monde accidentally published his obituary last October, before sports broadcaster La Chaine L’Équipe announced his death in a news ticker in August, per the Times. Tapie, 77, has cancer. Actress and singer Line Renaud, 92, took to Twitter to assure fans that she was "in great shape" despite the notice of her death, while Senegal's former president Abdoulaye Wade posted a photo on Facebook showing him relaxing in a lawn chair. "Not everybody gets the chance to take note of one’s obituary while still alive," the 94-year-old wrote. Obituaries were also shared for Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Jimmy Carter, Cuba's Raul Castro, Yoko Ono, Noam Chomsky, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, and Roman Polanski. (More obituary stories.)

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