Sects of doomsday believers have started descending on the tiny French town of Bugarach in the belief that it's the only place in the world that will survive the apocalypse they believe will occur on December 21, 2012, the BBC reports.
Many spiritual groups believe that Bugarach, a farming village of just 200 residents nestled on the French side of the Pyrenees, has magical powers that emanate from the overlooking mountain, the Pic de Bugarach, according to Time Magazine.
For years, Internet users have speculated that the mountain is inhabited by extraterrestrials that will emerge on the December 21, 2012 and take followers with them as human civilization comes to an end.
Since the beginning of the year, over 20,000 people have climbed to the top of the mountain to stake out the site and perform rituals, according to the town's mayor Jean-Pierre Delord.
"They think Pic de Bugarach is 'un garage à ovnis' [an alien garage]," Delord told The Independent. "The villagers are exasperated: the exaggerated importance of something which they see as completely removed from reality is bewildering. After December 21st, this will surely return to normal."
As more and more New Age visitors trek to the mountain, government watchdog agencies have begun tracking the sects as the town becomes increasingly vulnerable to scammers looking to capitalize on the growing apocalyptic fervor, Reuters reports.
A 2011 report by the watchdog agency Miviludes found that one messianic group had established no less than six settlements in the area surrounding Bugarach. The group, known as the American Ramtha School of Enlightenment, claims to follow the mystic teaching of an ancient warrior named Ramtha who battled the residents of Atlantis over 35,000 years ago and discovered the secret to immortality.
Another group profiled in the Miviludes report includes the Raelians, a religion founded by race car driver Claude Vorilhon that focuses on the belief that life on earth was designed by extraterrestrials.
Miviludes President president George Fenech told Reuters that in the months leading up to December 21st -- during which the population of Bugarach could balloon to 100,000 -- government agencies are taking special precaution to prevent mass suicides and other dangerous activities.
"I think we need to be careful. We shouldn't get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the United States, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people," Fenech told Reuters.
Watch CNN's report on the Bugarach activity below:
Read the original article at Latest News 2012-03-27 »