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Review: False rumors spark panic behavior

04-07-2011 08:40 BJT

Panic-induced behavior caused by rumors have topped the headlines across China on several occasions in recent years. Let's now take a look at two cases.

This was a fatal stampede in Xiangshui, in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, on February 10th. 10-thousand local residents fled their homes at 2 AM. And it all started with a rumor.

Local Resident of Xiangshui said "I heard noises outside, then people panicked and told me the factory will explode, and they insisted it was true. So I jumped on the car. There were too many people on the street, and so the accident occurred."

Local resident of Xiangshui said "People from all over the county were running away. What could I do? So I followed them and ran."

But it turned out to be a lie.

Local resident of Xiangshui said "At 5 o'clock in the morning, we all received a message from the government saying there's no explosion."

The rumor eventually led to four deaths, and left many injured.

Local authorities say the panic may have been partly triggered by two earlier accidents. The most recent happened in November 2007. A chemical plant in the industry park exploded and killed 8 people.

To prevent the incident from happening again, local governments are undertaking a new round of safety inspections at the chemical industry park, hoping to make residents feel safe. Meanwhile, those responsible for starting the rumor have also been jailed.

And the most recent incident occurred half a month ago when Japan's nuclear crisis triggered a nationwide salt buying panic.

The rumor first started in east Zhejiang Province, where people began saying that Japan's nuclear leak had contaminated the East China Sea. People responded by stocking up on salt, and not eating seafood.

The rumor spread quickly online from Zhejiang Province to the whole country, by way of microblogs and SMS.

People then rushed out to buy up salt, pushing up the price tenfold.

Following an investigation, it was discovered that it was a salt speculator that started the rumor.

The central government used the media effectively to halt panic buying and the hiking of the salt price. Meanwhile, the speculators that started the rumor have already been jailed. The central government has also stepped up supervision to prevent such cases from happening again.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: CNTV.CN

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