‘‘We got calls from as far away as Holland from people trying to seek shelter,’’ said Vlada Minic, a local villager. ‘‘They are asking to be as close as possible to the mountain.’’
A small Turkish village known for its wines, Sirince, has also been touted as the only place after Bugarach that would escape the world’s end. But on Thursday there were more journalists and security officials present there than cultists — to the great disappointment of local restaurateurs and souvenir shop owners.
Nobody was quite sure where Sirince’s alleged powers to survive the Mayan doomsday come from, but the idyllic village in western Turkey is close to an area where the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived her final days, and some New Agers reportedly believe the region has a positive aura. For months, local business owners have been promoting the village and even produced wines with special labels to commemorate the event.
Another spot said to be spared: Cisternino, in southern Italy, plans a big party Friday with hot-air balloons and music in the main piazza. ‘‘Nobody will want to sleep anyway as they await the end of the world,’’ Mayor Donato Baccaro was quoted as saying in the newspaper La Stampa on Wednesday. Though Baccaro goes on to say he doesn’t really believe the end is coming, hundreds have reportedly booked hotel rooms.
A fringe Christian group has been spreading rumors about the world’s impending end, prompting Chinese authorities to detain more than 500 people this week and seize leaflets, video discs, books and other material.
Those detained are reported to be members of the group Almighty God, also called Eastern Lightning, which preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China. Authorities in the province of Qinghai say they are waging a ‘‘severe crackdown’’ on the group, accusing it of attacking the Communist Party and the government.
For some, doomsday will be a chance for mockery.
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, producer and host of the History Channel’s ‘‘Ancient Aliens’’ program, is throwing a party in New Orleans on Friday where he will descend onstage in a mock spaceship. Tsoukalos is a leading proponent of the idea that ancient myths arose from visits by alien astronauts, an idea rejected by many mainstream researchers. Still, Tsoukalos scoffs at the idea that the world will come to an end Friday.
Associated Press writers Florent Bajrami in Bugarach, France; Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow; Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Paisley Dodds in London; and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.