Irwin's death clogs Web sites, stuns world fans
By Paul Tait
In death as in life, iconic TV naturalist Steve Irwin captivated
millions worldwide and clogged the Internet as fans from Guam to
Glasgow reacted with disbelief to news "The Crocodile Hunter" was
Some Web sites groaned to a halt within hours of the first reports on
Monday that Irwin had been killed by a stingray's barb through his
chest in a freak diving accident off Australia's northeast coast.
Web measurement company Hitwise said Irwin's death was the biggest
news event read by Australians on the Internet since two Australian
miners were trapped by a mine collapse in southern Tasmania state in
"We noticed that the Web site http://www.crocodilehunter.com increased
in popularity quite substantially. It became the number one
entertainment personality Web site in Australia yesterday and in the
United States it also became the third most popular," Hitwise
Asia-Pacific marketing director James Borg told Reuters.
Australian news Web sites struggled to keep up with demand.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s site http://www.abc.com.au) had to
temporarily shut down, posting a notice on Monday that it was
experiencing higher than normal traffic.
It resumed soon after in a low-bandwidth format to cope with hundreds
of thousands of hits.
Newspaper Web sites also wobbled but kept up with demand.
A spokesman for The Sydney Morning Herald's site,
http://www.smh.com.au said it had experienced a "huge" 40 percent
spike in page impressions compared with the previous week's average
weekday number of about 500,000.
There was also a 70 percent jump in visitors to its pages, the spokesman
That pattern was mirrored around the world, with Irwin's death leading
major news Web sites such as CNN and U.S. and British newspaper Web
sites, as well as swamping their most viewed and most emailed
Web logs and Internet feedback pages were also awash with postings
from shocked readers from around the world, many of them from
Americans charmed by Irwin's quirky style and his typically Australian
catchphrase of "crikey."
Irwin first found fame in the United States before his "Crocodile
Hunter" documentaries on U.S.-based television company Discovery
Communications' Animal Planet attracted a global audience of 200
million -- 10 times Australia's population.
"Crikey, I miss him so much," Tina Treece from Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, posted on a CNN feedback page
http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/09/04/australia.irwin.feedback/index.html . The site had contributions from readers in Guam,
Romania, Thailand, France, Scotland, India, New Zealand, Canada, Brunei,
Britain, Malaysia, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Many faced the problem of explaining to their children how one of
their favorite TV characters had died.
"Why did it have to be Steve Irwin?" 11-year-old Daniel told
Australian Associated Press.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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