Japan’s Convenience Stores Cleaned Out As Uncertain Residents Stock Up

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People wait in line outside a Lawson convenience store in Fukushima, Japan.

Koichi Kamoshida / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Concerned that the shipping channels will be shut for days, many Japanese rushed the supermarkets.

Many shoppers were hampered by closed stores, and the ones that were open Saturday encountered masses of people. And as expected, the staples were the first to go. Shoppers quickly snagged bread, water, batteries and other essentials, anxious to ensure their survival.

(More on TIME.com: How can you help the victims?)

From the hardest-hit areas near Sendai, and even hundreds of miles south in Tokyo, supermarkets could not keep up with the demand. Tokyo resident Nicky Washida told CNN she made it to the store just a little too late, and all she found on the shelves were alcohol-free beer and green tea candy. Her family will be hard-pressed to find much nutritional value in that purchase. “People in Tokyo seem to be panic-buying under the assumption that food will not be getting through to Tokyo for the next few days,” she said.

(More on TIME.com: See photos of the devastation across Japan)

Long lines and lack of stock persisted at stores and gas pumps throughout the country. Some gas stations are even limiting the amount of gas available per person, in the interest of fairness.  But peace of mind with food and fuel can be the best comfort in a time of uncertainty.

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