Interestingly, the famous ensuing panic was also largely fictional. Though millions listened to the broadcast and a significant fraction of them were genuinely frightened, very few of them actually took action. Sociologist Robert Bartholomew has a nice article about the Martian panic.
But real panic would happen with later radio dramatizations of the play. In Chile, 1944, provincial military troops prepared for the invasion. And in Ecuador, 1949, the local version of the prank resulted in 15 deaths. The panicked mob, upon realizing there were no Martians, turned against fellow Earthlings at the radio station.
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