WORRIES the so-called "doomsday", which the Mayans supposedly predicted the world to end - December 21 - are spreading among some people as the day approaches.
In Shanghai, police received 25 emergency calls in the past two days, all from people worried about the "doomsday."
People in a rural county of the southeastern Sichuan Province rushed to buy candles and matches as a rumor said the Earth would be shrouded in darkness for three days on December 21 when the fabled Mayan Calendar comes to an end.
No candles remained for sale in Longchang County due to panic buying in the past few days, the West China Metropolitan Daily reported yesterday.
The paper said the rumor first circulated online and spread to rural areas by word of mouth. Most of the believers were elderly people who heard it on streets, buses and at card tables.
"The candles sell so well these days that we are running out of them," a store owner surnamed Liang said.
Astronomers say the rumor is groundless. "People with some common sense would know that there couldn't be three days of darkness on the Earth," said Luan Jiangao, an astronomy researcher.
Academics also have debunked the doomsday scenario, saying it is based on a misreading of Mayan astronomy.
Nevertheless, in Nanjing, a 54-year-old woman believed the theory and mortgaged her 3-million-yuan (US$481,500) house for 1 million yuan to give money to underprivileged children before doomsday.
The retired senior engineer, surnamed Jiang, mortgaged her house without telling her family.
After negotiations, her husband surnamed Luo was to pay 20,000 yuan to get their property ownership certificate back from a real estate agent. But he and his daughter are still worried because Jiang firmly believes in an upcoming doomsday.
A network technology company in southwestern Chengdu City announced yesterday that it will give staff two days off to spend with their family.
The notice was praised as a doomsday welfare and forwarded hundreds of times on weibo.com.
Darryn, general manger of the network technology company, said he made the decision because most staff wouldn't concentrate on work. "Then, why not find a reason to see parents and spend a cherished doomsday with them?" he said.