China witnesses 'salt rush' amid radiation fears

The "salt rush" continued all over China for the second day despite announcement on state television that the country faced no danger from radiation poisoning and excess consumption of salt and iodine may lead to health problems, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"If you have run out of salt, borrow it from your neighbour, if you have enough salt for another week, hoarding is unnecessary," China National Salt Industry Corp (China Salt), the country's largest salt supplier, said in a message put on microblog.

A wave of panic buying was triggered by rumours since yesterday that iodised salt could help protect from the effects of nuclear radiation.

Rumours also spread that radiation had leaked into the sea from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

Supermarkets soon ran out of stock as panic buying spread across provinces from eastern Zhejiang to southern Guangdong to western Sichuan as well as the municipalities of Beijing and Chongqing.

Such was the rush that people were seen weighing with each other to buy salt in gunny bags.

Footage on the state television had showed that several super markets making fast money by setting up special counters, the report said.

Meanwhile, state television had lined up radiation experts to counsel public to act rationally as no radiation increases were reported from any part of the country and readings were being checked round the clock.

A senior official of the Chinese branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an interview on state television appealed to Chinese people not to panic as the radiation level confined to the exclusive zone in Japan posed no danger to the country.
Wary Beijingers this morning woke up to see a yellowish-grey sky with dusty winds, which later government clarified was the result of sandstorm emanating from Mongolia, reported Xinhua.

Pedestrians put on glasses, face masks and overcoats with a hood while vehicles parked on the roadsides were covered by a thin layer of dust. People were advised to stay indoors, it said.

The municipal weather bureau of Beijing said a cold current hitting northern China had swept dust into the capital.

Beijing, notorious for its poor air quality, saw its pollution index rising to "slightly polluted" on average from yesterday noon to this noon, the weather bureau's latest released figures show, the state-run agency added.

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