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Hot spots draw believers, but not doomsday
As the sun rose from time zone to time zone across the world on Friday, there was still no sign of the world’s end _ but that didn’t stop those convinced that a 5,125-year Mayan calendar predicts the apocalypse from gathering at some of the world’s purported survival hot spots.
Many of the esoterically inclined expected a new age of consciousness _ others wanted a party. But, in some places said to offer salvation from the end, fewer people showed up than officials had predicted _ much to the disappointment of vendors hoping to sell souvenirs.
Here are some key places being marked by the fascination over doomsday rumors:
In an area of Mexico that was once the ancient Mayan heartland, spiritualists gathered in the darkness before dawn on Friday to prepare white clothes, drums, conch shells and incense. They believed the sunrise would herald the birth of a new and better age as a vast cycle in the Mayan calendar comes to an end.
Many people who came to Yucatan for the occasion were already calling it “a new sun” and “a new era.”
According to one rumor, a rocky mountain in the French Pyrenees will be the sole place on Earth to escape destruction. A giant UFO and aliens are said to be waiting under the mountain, ready to burst through and spirit those nearby to safety. But there is bad news for those seeking salvation: French gendarmes, some on horseback, blocked outsiders from reaching the Bugarach peak and its village of some 200 people.
Eric Freysselinard, head of local government, said the security forces had “partially stopped the new age enthusiasts as well as curious people from coming to the area.”
Meanwhile, some Bugarach residents dressed up like aliens, with tinfoil costumes and funnels and fake antenna on their heads, strolling around their village Friday to make light of the rumored UFO prophecy.
Doomsday rumors have prompted some people across Russia to stock up on candles, water, canned foods and other non-perishable foods. The apocalypse has proven a good business, with some shops selling survival aid packages that include soap and vodka.
In Moscow, salvation has also been promised in the underground bunker for the former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin _ with a 50 percent refund if nothing happens. An underground stay was originally priced at 50,000 rubles ($1,625) but dropped to 15,000 ($490) a week ahead of the feared end.
The bunker, located 65 meters (210 feet) below ground, was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. Now home to a small museum, it has an independent electricity supply, water and food _ but no more room, because the museum has already sold out all 1,000 tickets.
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