Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doomsday Prediction Falls Flat

The prophecy of the end of the world has ended with a whimper, not a bang, as life went on as usual despite warnings of Judgment Day by a US preacher which provoked panic in some quarters and parties in others.

Televangelist Harold Camping had insisted the so-called rapture would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6.00 pm local time in each of the world's regions, with worthy souls transported to heaven.

According to the 89-year-old and his religious broadcasting network Family Radio, the not-so-good were to suffer hell on Earth until October 21, when God pulls the plug on the planet once and for all.

One of the first places to be hit, according to Mr Camping, who first wrongly predicted the end of the world in 1994, would be New Zealand - but 6.00 pm came and went with no earthquakes and little local media attention.

Similarly in Europe and the United States, the deadline arrived with little fanfare, and even fewer people ascending dramatically to heaven.

Internet users, meanwhile, joked about creating a fake rapture if Mr Camping's prediction did not pan out.

On Twitter, non-believers suggested laying out old clothing and shoes on pavements and lawns to give the impression that someone had indeed been beamed up, or releasing inflatable dolls into the sky.

In the US capital, at least 400 people were expected to the celebrate the rapture not occurring, at an "end of the world party".

Suicide prevention hotlines meanwhile had been set up, according to the Washington Post, amid fears despondent Family Radio followers would be depressed if the apocalypse fails to materialise.

In the United States, where Mr Camping's evangelising group is based, some people have quit their jobs and hit the road to urge others to repent before it is too late.

Gregory LeCorps stopped working weeks ago to take his wife and five young children on the road and warn others that the end really was nigh, according to New York state's The Journal News.

"We're in the final days," Mr LeCorps, who hoped to be on a beach in South Carolina by Judgment Day, was quoted as saying.

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