Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to a flight tracking website on Tuesday to learn whether US official Nancy Pelosi was actually flying to Taiwan to protest China’s anger.
The trouble was that there were so many of them – a site record of more than 708,000 – that Flightradar24 said would have to limit non-customers’ access to keep the service online.
“Unfortunately, due to the volume of users, it was necessary to deploy our waiting room functionality, which uses meters,” the company said in a statement, referring to the “unprecedented” interest.
The sudden fixation on the plane carrying Pelosi, called SPAR19, was driven largely by uncertainty about whether the US House speaker would undergo a visit he declined to confirm.
This is significant because Pelosi, second in line to the presidency, is the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and Beijing has made it clear that it treats her presence as a major provocation.
Once the plane landed safely on the Taipei tarmac – speculation had mounted that China might act against the jet – the mystery was no more and the curious crowd dispersed.
“Shortly after SPAR19 landed, normal access was quickly restored for all users,” Flightradar24 said.
China considers self-governing, democratic Taiwan its territory and has vowed to one day seize the island by force if necessary.
It tries to keep Taiwan isolated on the world stage and opposes countries that have official exchanges with Taipei.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)