Last place on Earth to see Apocalypse
A SMALL French town has come under scrutiny by the official cult watchdog after droves of visitors descended on it, claiming it is the only place on Earth that will survive a 2012 apocalypse.
A report by the watchdog, Miviludes, published yesterday said the village of Bugarach near Carcassonne should be monitored in the run-up to 21 December, 2012, when the gullible say the world will end, according to a supposed Mayan prophecy.
Miviludes was set up in 2002 to track sects, after a law passed the previous year made it an offence to pressurise, defraud or abuse vulnerable people.
Surrounded in legend for centuries, Bugarach and its rocky outcrop, the Pic de Bugarach, have attracted an influx of New Age visitors in recent months, pushing up property prices but also raising the threat of financial scams and psychological abuse, Miviludes reported.
Miviludes president Georges Fenech said: "I think we need to be careful. We shouldn't get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the US, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people."
Waco, Texas, hit the headlines in 1993 when federal agents raided the base of the Branch Davidian movement, led by David Koresh, leading to a 50-day siege.The building was burnt down when agents stormed it, leaving some 80 people dead.
Bugarach (population 200), has long been considered magical, partly due to what locals claim is an "upside-down mountain" where the top layers of rock are older than the lower ones.
Mr Fenech said he recently visited Bugarach, and found six settlements set up by members of the American Ramtha School of Enlightenment. Other "gurus" and messianic groups have been organising fee-paying conferences at local hotels. "This is big business," he said.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east