Doomsday Dec 21, 2012: Believers drawn to hotspots
New York: Although scientists have completely rubbished fears that the world will end on December 21, 2012, believers are being drawn to spots where the buzz suggests that chances of survival will be higher.
And accompanying them are party-lovers and, of course, the economy (chance to make a quick buck) surrounding the Doomsday hysteria.
Some of the world's most popular Doomsday destinations:
At the centre of Doomsday hype in France is a rocky mountain in the French Pyrenees. People believe the Bugarach peak and its village of some 200 people will be the only place on earth to escape destruction. Adding to the buzz is the belief that aliens with big UFOs are waiting inside the mountain, ready to escape – they are expected to take the residents of the village along with them – when the end comes.
But here is bad news for those seeking salvation: French authorities are blocking outsiders from reaching the Bugarach peak and the village.
Local residents, instead, are sceptical - and angry at having their peace disturbed. "What is going on here is the creation of an urban legend," fumed resident Michele Pous, who blamed those who spread Internet rumours. "They created media frenzy, they created a false event they manipulated people."
Russia may have left behind USSR but Soviet era bunker in the news as the place to be.
The bunker is now a museum. For USD 1,500, it is offering salvation from the world's end in the bunker located in central Moscow that was once used former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The museum also promised to refund 50% of the amount if nothing happens.
The bunker, located 65 meters (210 feet) below ground, was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. It has an independent electricity supply, water and food - but no more room, because the museum has already sold out all 1,000 tickets.
Hundreds of people have already converged on Stonehenge for an "End of the World" party that coincides with the Winter Solstice.
Arthur Uther Pendragon, Britain's best-known druid, said he was anticipating a much larger crowd than usual at Stonehenge this year. But he doesn't agree that the world is ending, noting that he and fellow druids believe that things happen in cycles.
"We're looking at it more as a new beginning than an end," he said. "We're looking at new hope."
Meanwhile, end-of-days parties will be held across London on Friday. One event billed as a "last supper club" is offering a three-course meal served inside of an "ark."
Some Serbs are saying to forget that sacred mountain in the French Pyrenees. The place to go on Friday will be Mount Rtanj, a pyramid-shaped peak in Serbia already drawing cultists.
A local legend has it that the mountain once swallowed an evil sorcerer who will be released on doomsday in a ball of fire that will hit the mountain top. The inside of the mountain will then open up, becoming a safe place to hide as the sorcerer goes on to destroy the rest of the world. In the meantime, some old coal mine shafts have been opened up as safe rooms for the dozens who have arrived already.
"We got calls from as far away as Holland from people trying to seek shelter," said Vlada Minic, a local villager.
"They are asking to be as close as possible to the mountain."
A small Turkish village known for its wines, Sirince, has also been touted as the only place after Bugarach that would escape the world's end. But on Thursday there were more journalists and security officials present there than cultists - to the great disappointment of local restaurateurs and souvenir shop owners.
Nobody was quite sure where Sirince's alleged powers to survive the Mayan doomsday come from, but the idyllic village in western Turkey is close to an area where the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived her final days, and some New Agers reportedly believe the region has a positive aura. For months, local business owners have been promoting the village and even produced wines with special labels to commemorate the event.
Another spot said to be spared: Cisternino, in southern Italy, plans a big party Friday with hot-air balloons and music in the main piazza. "Nobody will want to sleep anyway as they await the end of the world," Mayor Donato Baccaro was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Stampa on Wednesday. Though Baccaro goes on to say he doesn't really believe the end is coming, hundreds have reportedly booked hotel rooms.
A fringe Christian group has been spreading rumors about the world's impending end, prompting Chinese authorities to detain more than 500 people this week and seize leaflets, video discs, books and other material.
Those detained are reported to be members of the group Almighty God, also called Eastern Lightning, which preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China.
Authorities in the province of Qinghai say they are waging a "severe crackdown" on the group, accusing it of attacking the Communist Party and the government.
For some, doomsday will be a chance for mockery.
Giorgio A Tsoukalos, producer and host of the History Channel's "Ancient Aliens" program, is throwing a party in New Orleans on Friday where he will descend onstage in a mock spaceship. Tsoukalos is a leading proponent of the idea that ancient myths arose from visits by alien astronauts, an idea rejected by many mainstream researchers.
Still, Tsoukalos scoffs at the idea that the world will come to an end Friday.
With agency inputs