Man jailed for spreading radiation rumors

South Korean environmental activists hold yellow umbrellas reading, "The nuclear-free earth" during a performance to oppose nuclear power in Seoul. South Korean pharmacists issued an appeal Thursday cautioning against panic over Japan's crisis-hit nuclear plants, as callers flooded drug stores with requests for iodide pills. (AFP)

Police in eastern China have jailed a man for 10 days and fined him 500 yuan ($76.13) for spreading rumors online that a blast at a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant had contaminated Chinese waters, state media said.

Authorities in Zhejiang province said a computer company worker surnamed Chen spread fake information about nuclear contamination reaching waters off China's eastern Shandong province, the online version of Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily reported on Monday.

In Chen's comments posted on March 15 under the handle "Old Fisherman" he had urged people to spread the word about the radiation to family and friends, stockpile salt, and not consume products from the sea for a year, the report said.

Last week unfounded rumors about iodine in salt being able to stop radiation sickness rippled across China, causing panic buying of the typically plentiful product.

China has not found any abnormal signs of radiation following the damage at the Japanese nuclear plant, but it is checking imports of Japanese food for contamination.

Chen told police he had come across the information on the Internet and "transmitted it to friends and family without thinking," the People's Daily said.

It said Chen had confessed to a "deep awareness of his mistake" which was "illegal and harmful to society."

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