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Hoax sign warns Arizona drivers of panda rampage

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A wave of "panda-monium" has swept through a northern Arizona city thanks to a mischievous street sign hacker who warned motorists of a "ROGUE PANDA ON RAMPAGE."

State transportation officials said Tuesday that a person was able to post the hoax warning by hacking into an electronic message board in Flagstaff, Arizona, over the weekend.

Rest easy, though. Authorities said the city is safe from pandas, if not from jokesters.

Officials said the message board alerting drivers to street improvements near a busy city intersection was probably altered late on Sunday or early on Monday. It was fixed by 11 a.m. local time on Monday.

"Someone had to know what they were doing to go in and change the message," said Mackenzie Kirby, an Arizona Department of Transportation spokeswoman. "It's not easy."

Kirby joked that there had been no sightings of any rogue pandas in the community, but she has been sent several photoshopped images via email of the cuddly creatures tooled up for trouble.

In one picture, a panda is holding a machete. In another, it is toting a rifle.

"We're all getting a laugh out of this to be sure," she said.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Cynthia Johnston)

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