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Doomsday rumors trigger panic buying, reflection


16:59, December 20, 2012

BEIJING, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- Candles and matches have almost sold out in two southwest China counties following online rumors of a coming doomsday event that some believe will bring the end of the world.

Panic buying in Shuangliu and Longchang counties, both located in Sichuan province, was stirred by rumors of "three consecutive days of darkness after Dec. 21."

The rumors have been widely spread via Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site, becoming one of the site's ten most popular topics in recent days.

Local businesses and online vendors have picked up on the rumors, offering packages of supplies, self-help manuals and even beauty products for the end times.

The trending topic appears to be related to myths stating that a calendar used by the ancient Maya accurately predicts the end of the world, with many believing the event will occur in December 2012.

Such beliefs have spawned a cottage industry, despite having been debunked multiple times by archaeologists and other scientists.

Businessman Yang Zongfu, who hails from the city of Yiwu in east China's Jiangsu province, sought to capitalize on the craze four months ago, when he debuted his own version of "Noah's Ark."

Yang's invention, a large stainless-steel ball intended to shelter and protect survivors in the event of a world-ending event, sells for 1 to 5 million yuan (160,300 to 800,150 U.S. dollars).

Yang said a businessman from north China's Shanxi province has purchased 15 of the devices, adding that he has also received orders from New Zealand.

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