Kenya’s telecoms operator Safaricom has moved to reassure its subscribers in the wake of widespread rumours asking them not to receive calls from certain numbers which subscribers have come to call “The Death Number” or REDCALL by tweeps.

The specific information, being relayed through text messages and e-mail, asks subscribers not to pick calls from the following numbers: 7888308001, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137, 9876715587. It says the numbers “come in red and if received, one would get brain haemorrhage due to high frequency.” The messages also claim 27 people had died from receiving the calls. It urges recipients to inform friends and relatives and confirm the information by watching DD News.

Said Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph: “This is a hoax and not technically possible. It is a popular urban myth that has been perpetuated, especially in some Asian markets. We wish to reassure our customers and all users of mobile phones in the Kenyan market to ignore these rumours and continue enjoying our services. It is unfortunate that some people are perpetuating this rumour, causing fear and stopping many from the convenience of enjoying our services.”

Investigations show that the numbers listed belong to operators in India and the UK and the calls are initiated over the internet i.e. VoIP calls. DD News is a reference to an Indian broadcaster called Doordarshan News.

Added Mr Joseph: “We provide our services on frequencies that are safe for humans. As for colour displays, these are dependant on handset design. Colour displays can not be altered, unless special software is installed onto the device, the most popular one being Colour SMS software, a freeware readily available off the internet.”