Do they know something we don't?
(Radio Free Asia) - A Chinese newspaper in the northeastern province of Jilin, which borders North Korea, has published a list of readers' tips on how to survive a nuclear attack, as the war of words between Washington and Pyongyang escalated on Thursday.
North Korea on Thursday called large-scale U.S. combat drills over South Korea "confrontational warmongering," saying that the exercises and recent rhetoric from Washington made the outbreak of war "an established fact."
The latest volley of bellicose rhetoric came after 230 American aircraft, including bombers, joined the "Vigilant Ace" joint military exercises with South Korea, just a week after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) it says can reach the mainland U.S.
The Jilin Daily newspaper made no mention of a potential nuclear attack on North Korea.
But it published a lengthy guide to nuclear weapons and the aftermath of an atomic explosion, advising readers to "shelter behind a wall, preferably lying down in the corner, or under a bed or table, and avoid opening doors and windows ... to minimize the risk of debris injuries."
"After the blast wave has passed, you should immediately remove all dust from your body, and enter the nearest shelter," it said. "If no shelter is available, you can enter any building that has not been destroyed in the blast, and close the doors and windows to prevent contamination by radioactive dust."
Readers are also advised to "dive into any nearby lakes or river and wear light-colored clothing," to avoid initial injuries from the blast.
Anyone entering a shelter or protective space should be decontaminated by wiping, showering, and carefully removing clothing, the article said.
"Rub contamination from people's skin with a towel or gauze wipe, from top to bottom, in one direction, folding the towel after each wipe to prevent recontamination," it said. "Induce vomiting or use gastric lavage, or drink plenty of water for diuretic discharge of contaminated food and water."
"Laxatives may be taken, under direction of a doctor, to speed up the elimination of radioactive material [from the body]," it said.
Officials call for calm
Meanwhile, officials in Beijing called for calm.
"We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint and take steps to alleviate tensions and not provoke each other," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
"The outbreak of war is not in any side's interest. The ones that will suffer the most are ordinary people."
A resident of Jilin's border city of Yanbian surnamed Cai told RFA on Thursday that local officials are handing out similar instructions to residents on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.
But he said many local people don't believe it will come to war.
"They are being issued by our residential communities here in Yanbian, all about how to protect yourself from a nuclear attack," Cai said.
"But farmers like us don't have cellars, so where are we going to hide in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion? Under the table, I guess!"
According to the Jilin Daily, there are five "killing and destructive factors" involved in a nuclear blast: the flash, the shock wave, radioactive pollution, and early nuclear radiation, as well as a massively powerful electromagnetic pulse.
Around 85 percent of deaths, injury, and destruction caused by a nuclear explosion are dealt out by the initial flash and shock wave, it said.
While the electromagnetic pulse doesn't usually cause direct injury to people, it knocks out computers, digital devices, and power networks across a radius of "thousands of kilometers," the paper warned.
'Pretty worried about it'
A Yanbian resident surnamed Yan said local police have also been sending out mass text messages warning local residents not to shelter anyone "foreign."
"I think the authorities seem pretty worried about it, but ordinary people don't seem to be feeling it," she said. "I heard from civil servants that the government has already set in place preparations in the event of a nuclear conflict in North Korea."
"They have built detention centers to hold all the refugees," she said.
And a university lecturer from Jilin surnamed Wang said the article in the Jilin Daily appeared timed to coincide with joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.
But he said the paper doesn't have the backing of any powerful political figures, so the article is unlikely to be a sign that war is imminent.
"But it does reflect the atmosphere in Northeast China over the Korean peninsula, where people feel despairing, as if they have no control over the situation," Wang said. "They are particularly worried about the current state of mind."
United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman met with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Thursday, in a bid to stave off rising tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
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