French village faces influx of apocalypse believers

Image caption,
Mr Delord says US websites are selling tickets for trips to Bugarach

A French mayor has expressed concern over an influx of New Age believers to his village who are convinced they will escape the end of the world in 2012.

Jean-Pierre Delord, mayor of Bugarach, says rumours are circulating that the village offers shelter from an impending Armageddon.

Bugarach is a small village of about 200 people in south-west France.

The mayor says that in recent years the village has attracted visitors looking for alien activity.

Now it is seeing visitors who predict that the end of civilisation is due to occur in two years' time, he says.

They believe the world will end on 21 December 2012, the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the ancient Maya calendar.

'Esoteric visitors'

Mr Delord says he has raised the issue with regional authorities.

"I'm worried because the population of our village is only 200 people and... we risk having a flood from all the corners of the earth," he told RTL radio.

"There are already some websites in the US with some people selling tickets for trips to Bugarach. They are doing some business, and people are already organising visits and prayer and meditation workshops, etc," he added.

"A few hundred coming every year isn't a problem, is it? But we mustn't have thousands coming altogether."

Many of the visitors believe that a group of aliens is hiding in a cavern in Bugarach's 1,231m mountain who will leave when the world ends and take them with them, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sigrid Benard, who runs the Maison de la Nature guesthouse, said she was seeing a rise in those who held the belief.

"At first, my clientele was 72% ramblers. Today, I have 68% 'esoteric visitors'," she told AFP news agency.

The myth of a 2012 doomsday originates in claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth, according to the US space agency Nasa. That theory then became linked to dates in the Mayan calendar.

However, Nasa states on its website: "Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012."

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