Friday, 15 June 2012

Fireworks and tinned peaches to save children from Heaven's revenge for earthquakes

BEIJING, June 7 (Xinhua) -- A rumour spread in recent days saying that people need to set off firecrackers and eat canned peaches to save their children. […]

The rumour originated in Cangzhou city, Hebei province, at the end of May and spread across the region, even to the suburbs of Beijing. It came after a 4.8-magnitude earthquake on May 28 jolted north China's Tangshan, the city 200 km northeast of Beijing in which 240,000 people were killed in a 7.8-magnitude quake in 1976.

Locals heard that some of their renowned temples had been damaged or destroyed during the small quake. Some were urged to believe that Heaven will take away their children in compensation for the loss of the sacred buildings. The belief came about that only fireworks and packaged fruit could save their youngsters from this vengeance.

Soon, many rural and urban families in Hebei and the southern outskirts of Beijing were filling the air with the distinctive sound of firecrackers, and canned yellow peaches were snapped up at markets.

The press office of Hebei provincial government responded several days later on its microblog account that there was no damage to any temples or pagodas, urging the public not to believe or disseminate the rumour. […]