The Great Pig Flood of 2011

“More than 30,000 pigs have been floating down the Dawson River since last weekend, with a piggery at Baralaba paralysed by flooding which has killed most of its bred live-stock. Baralaba Butchers’ Sid Everingham … said: ‘We’ve lost probably about 30,000 pigs in the floods ….'” So reported the Rockhampton (Queensland) Morning Bulletin, with a headline to match (“More than 30,000 pigs lost in floodwaters”).

But a few days later, the newspaper published a correction:

What Baralaba piggery-owner Sid Everingham actually said was “30 sows and pigs”, not “30,000 pigs.”

Thanks to Ben Zimmer (Language Log) for the pointer. The Media Blog adds:

It is a little surprising that the reporter didn’t think to check. “Crikey, that’s a lot of a pigs mate, are you sure you mean 30,000?”. Similarly, if they really thought there were 30,000 pigs floating down the river, why did they only put it on page 11? That would be Biblical!

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