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Frantic search for poisonous pufferfish taken by Chinese villagers after truck spills seafood on highway

Police have retrieved 10 pufferfish taken by villagers after a delivery truck packed with seafood overturned on a highway in central China.

The truck had fallen on its side, spilling fish all over the road after it collided with two cars on the highway in the city of Jinzhou, Hubei province, on Tuesday morning, Wuhan Evening News reported.

Chinese truck driver stews as villagers poach pears after truck crash

Police who had rushed to scene stopped villagers from picking up the seafood, but not before some helped themselves to the fish, according to the report.

The driver then told police that 10 pufferfish were missing.

Pufferfish, which typically have spiny skin and inflate themselves when threatened, are sometimes used as food but must be properly prepared as some of their parts are highly toxic. If people consume improperly prepared pufferfish, they can die of poisoning.

Upon learning about the missing pufferfish, local government officials and police officers immediately began investigations to retrieve them.

They also broadcasted messages through television and radio programmes, warning villagers not to eat the pufferfish as special training was required in order to prepare them for safe consumption.

One villager voluntarily returned a pufferfish around noon, while the remaining nine were retrieved by village cadres and local police soon afterwards, according to the report.

Fortunately, none of the fish had yet been eaten, although the villagers did not know they were poisonous, the report said.