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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Gas mask demand jumps
A gas mask and suit
Sales have soared in several stores
Army surplus stores are reporting a substantial increase in sales of gas masks and protective suits following the terrorist attacks in the US.

Shop owners say some people fear a chemical or biological attack on the UK.

Mark Bullock, director of Springfield Army Stores in Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, said he had sold more than 300 gas masks and 1,000 protective suits in the past week.

Before the terror attacks on the US, he sold about five masks a week and no more than 20 suits.


They are normal people with normal concerns

Mark Bullock, army surplus store owner
"Sales started to pick up Wednesday last week, but from then it has really escalated," he said.

"People want to know that they can fit the family up so that in the event of anything happening, they have half an hour or an hour of being safe."

His shop had a similar run on such items during the Gulf War.

The owner of the Anchor Surplus at Ripley in Derbyshire said sales were high at his shop as well.

The protective suits and masks, normally sold for paintball games or other outdoor activities, contain charcoal which protects the skin from gas and chemicals.

ration boxes
Ration sales have also increased
He said his stock would be sold out in less than two weeks if brisk sales continue.

Most of the calls are coming from London and the south of the country because people in those areas fear that London would be the obvious target in a terrorist attack.

"They are normal people with normal concerns," he said.

An army surplus shop in Worchestershire also reported a big jump in gas mask sales, from 25 a year to 600 last week.

The owner said he was also selling more ration packs.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Charles Carroll reports
"More masks were sold in one week than are usually sold in a year."

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See also:

24 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Q&A: The threat from bio-terrorism
24 Sep 01 | Americas
US fears grow of biological attack
18 Sep 01 | Health
Doctors plan bioterror response
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