Radiation fears prompt panic buying of salt

Updated: 2011-03-18 07:00

By Wang Jingqiong and Li Xinzhu (China Daily)

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'Here's soy sauce'

Supermarkets in Beijing and many cities across the country have run out of salt in just a matter of days. At 1 pm Thursday, dozens of people in an Ito-Yokado supermarket in Beijing's Chaoyang district crowded in front of the empty salt shelves, disappointed that they were too late for the competition.

Two workers kept carrying big boxes of soy sauce, shouting at the crowd: "Salt is sold out, here's soy sauce. If you still want salt, come early tomorrow."

The crowd rushed toward the soy sauce. One woman grabbed five bottles and complained, "Who knows if you can get salt tomorrow? Soy sauce is salty; better to store some in case."

"It started this morning," a staff member in the store's customer service center told China Daily. "So many people came to our store to buy salt, saying they need iodine to guard against the nuclear radiation from Japan."

In Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province, a resident named Guo was shocked by how fast salt disappeared.

"I heard the news that everybody is buying salt, so I went to the two biggest supermarkets in the area this morning," Guo told China Daily. "So many people were swarming toward salt shelves. The price is 20 percent higher than usual, and the shelves went empty almost in a second."

In cities of Zhejiang province, where the salt panic started, people lined up in front of supermarkets. According to the country's largest salt maker, China National Salt Industry Corp (China Salt), Zhejiang reported that 4,000 tons of salt were sold on Thursday, eight times the province's average daily sales figure.

Radiation fears prompt panic buying of salt
Liu Zhe/China Daily

Radiation fears prompt panic buying of salt
Top:Customers buy soy sauce after sells out at Ito-Yakodo supermarket in Beijing's Chaoyang district on Thursday afternoon. Above:Customers at a supermarket on Thursday in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, are not allowed to buy more than five packs of salt at one time. Joe Stephen/For China Daily

Liu Rong, a 26-year-old professional in Shanghai, said she received more than three calls within two minutes from Ningbo, a city in Zhejiang, telling her to pile up salt.

"My mom first called me at around 7 pm Wednesday, followed by my cousin and my friends. All of them urged me to buy salt in Shanghai and ship it to them, because there was no supply in my hometown," she said.

But when she rushed into supermarkets in Shanghai, there was no salt, either.


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