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Spike in calls from empty houses to fire department in Akita City baffles authorities

19 Comments
By SoraNews24

From time to time emergency hotline operators will receive a call during where no one responds on the other end. This presents a difficult problem as it could be a prank, an accidental dial, or someone in grave danger and unable to communicate. But sometimes it’s something completely unexplainable.

In Akita City, too, every once in a while a call will come into the fire department’s 119 emergency number, but rather than a voice the operator can only hear various mechanical buzzing and rumbling sounds.

The spookiest such incident happened in 2014 in neighboring Aomori Prefecture when fire trucks were called to a villa deep in the Hakkoda Mountains at about midnight. However, when they arrived no one was inside, all the doors and windows were locked and intact, and all the phones where properly hung up. A fault in the phone line was blamed but no full explanation was ever found.

Although rare, happening about once or twice a year, these phantom calls are considered a normal part of the job and probably due to a technical glitch. Each time, protocol dictates that the operator hang up, then call back. If the line is busy or no one answers, then firefighters are sent to investigate it as a potential emergency.

Since May of this year, however, cases of phones seemingly calling 119 by themselves have spiked to nine within the city. The calls occur at various times of the day, always from a landline, and often when the residents aren’t even home. Some homeowners were surprised to come home to a fire brigade parked out front, while others were woken in the middle of the night by sirens only to find that their house had called 119, seemingly by itself.

This increased frequency has raised the severity of the problem from a mild inconvenience to a potentially life-threatening nuisance, so Akita fire departments are pushing phone company NTT East to look into it more seriously.

Readers of the news were certainly beginning to take it more seriously too, because who doesn’t love a good mystery?

“What a peculiar thing to happen….”

“I wonder if someone was screwing with the switchboard or if it was the result of maintenance testing.”

“Cosmic rays maybe?”

“I know this is serious and dangerous, but I think this is a great topic for occult lovers.”

“Scary!”

“It’s got to be someone breaking in and pulling a prank.”

“I remember reading about the Aomori incident. They said it was the wind, but the wind alone couldn’t have done it.”

“I’ve heard if there’s a short in the overhead wires and the wind blows it just right, it’ll ‘dial’ 119.”

“That’s a good mystery.”

NTT East have been looking into the matter since September, but still no explanation has been found. Meanwhile the Akita fire chief inspected their 119 system and found everything to be in order. He also told media, “This is just my opinion, but based on what I’ve seen, I think it is from really old equipment like ‘black telephones’ that still haven’t upgraded to touchtone.”

“Black telephone” is the Japanese term for a rotary telephone. For those too young to remember, these phones dialed using a plastic circle that made a sort of clicking pulse sound while is rotated. This pulse sent the corresponding number information across the phone line.

It still seems like a very possible cause though, as those subtle pulse sounds are rather easy to imitate, especially by a short in the wire. And since fax machines are still widely in play in Japan, it’s not so unbelievable that a few people are still clinging to their rotary phones.

However a lot of unanswered questions remain: Why is it suddenly increasing now? Why is it only happening in Akita? Also, why has the police hotline, which is 110 and seemingly equally susceptible to these mystery calls, not received any?

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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Could be paranormal activity going on. Not actually the phone but something along those lines. Heh. No but seriously that’s creepy and it’s obviously ghosts.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ghostbusters!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Certainly paranormal activity has been blamed in at least one case, the Rosenheim case in Germany where mysterious calls were associated with one female staff member and continused even when she changed jobs. But from my occasional experience with house doorbells, all sorts of electrical devices can occasionally be set off for no reason. Still, maybe there's a poltergeist in the telephone exchange!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Need Bill Murray back in Japan asap

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My first thought was, "telephone prank anyone?"

Especially since they say it only happens in Akita City, it might be someone sneaking into other peoples houses and calling 119 as a prank?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Why are they dispatching people when there are no requests to do so-a silent call is not a call for aid, is it?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

NK spies?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This is just my opinion, but based on what I’ve seen, I think it is from really old equipment like ‘black telephones’ that still haven’t upgraded to touchtone.”

Pulse dialling phones were phased out what 30~35 years ago, and are not compatible with touch tone systems. Amirite?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One Step Beyond's next episode.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Dead are calling

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Physically hacking a phone line is easy, but you have to have the gear and be there to tap the line.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cue Rod Serling...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“Black telephone” is the Japanese term for a rotary telephone. For those too young to remember, these phones dialed using a plastic circle that made a sort of clicking pulse sound while is rotated. This pulse sent the corresponding number information across the phone line.

Those too young to remember would be around 35 years old now.... well and truly capable of identifying obsolete tech and researching it for themselves, if not told about them 1,000 times by their family members since the 1980's.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There are dozens of ways to spoof phone numbers. Doing it on a landline physically would require an orange box, but this can be done digitally with software. Phone hacking is more believable to me than the wind explanation or the idea that it's rotary phones to blame. There are plenty of funny videos online of spoofing as a prank, but when it's done to call the fire department it's no longer a joke and is sick.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A simple " can we have a look at your phone" might help just see how many false calls are mate either on a new or old phone then they could build up a pattern.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

That^^^^, and dust it for prints.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I had a security camera which suddenly started going through it's setup menu. I didn't touch it and was just watching for two weeks, every day it was self selecting a different setting... Finally I replaced the camera and moved it to a different location and reset to factory default, but out of all the cameras, it has the lowest framerate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a simple case of crossed wires. That's why the british police use 999. That would require 27 pulses. The japanese fire brigade number of 119 requires only 11 pulses and the police number requires 12.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I had a security camera which suddenly started going through it's setup menu. I didn't touch it and was just watching for two weeks, every day it was self selecting a different setting... Finally I replaced the camera and moved it to a different location and reset to factory default, but out of all the cameras, it has the lowest framerate.

Made in China, no doubt.

Glitch in the backend/backdoor that allows the camera (and all cameras made in China) to be operated remotely FROM china.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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