LONDON (AFP) - British-Irish boyband One Direction is to take a break next year, two members said on Monday, quickly reassuring the group's passionate fanbase that they had no plans to split up.
The comments followed a report in British newspaper The Sun citing a "1D source" that the band was to separate for at least a year, leaving the band's enormous global teenage following devastated.
"Ok so lots of rumours going round. We are not splitting up, but we will be taking a well earned break at some point next year," Niall Horan, a member of the four-piece boyband, wrote to his 23 million followers on Twitter.
"Don't worry though, we still have lots we want to achieve!" the 21-year-old said.
Fellow band member Louis Tomlinson, 23, wrote: "Your support is truly indescribable! It's just a break :) we're not going anywhere!!"
"Promise," Tomlinson added. "Don't worry."
A spokesman for the band had declined to comment on the report in The Sun, which followed speculation the band might break up after popular former member Zayn Malik, 22, quit due to stress in March.
Fans took to social media to express their shock, with Twitter user Lexie Noel posting that "I've never cried harder".
Battle-hardened fans offered advice to those going through their first boyband split.
"It's ok One Direction fans, I went through this with Take That & Boyzone," wrote Twitter user @LisforLia.
"You may feel like your heart is in a blender, but you can do this."
The band is due to release its fifth album before Christmas, and fulfil promotional commitments by the end of February, the report in The Sun said.
There is no tour scheduled for the new album.
One Direction's last scheduled concerts are at the Sheffield Arena in northern England on Oct 29, 30, 31. They are touring North America.
Put together for a British television singing contest in 2010, Horan, Tomlinson, Malik, Liam Payne and Harry Styles swiftly developed a giant, fiercely loyal following of young girls worldwide.
The chart-toppers have sold more than 50 million records around the globe.
Malik has signed a new recording deal as a solo artist since quitting in March.
"I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight," he said at the time.
The Sunday Times newspaper's Rich List 2015 reckoned the band members were worth £25 million (S$55.4 million) each.