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2012 In The News

Don't come to my village for the end of the world, says mayor

Henry Samuel, The Daily Telegraph; With Files From News Services

The mayor of a French village has threatened to call in the army to seal it off from an influx of New Age fanatics and UFO watchers, who are convinced it is the only place on Earth that will be spared Armageddon in 2012.

Bugarach, population 189, is a peaceful, picturesque farming community in the Aude region of southwestern France and sits at the foot of the Pic de Bugarach, the highest mountain in the Corbieres wine-growing area.

But in the past few months, the quiet village has been inundated by groups of esoteric outsiders who believe the peak is an "alien garage".

According to them, extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the world to end, at which point they will leave, taking, it is hoped, a lucky few humans with them.

Most believe Armageddon will take place on December 21 2012, the end date of the ancient Maya calendar, at which point they predict human civilization will come to an end. Another favourite date mentioned is December 12 2012. They see Bugarach as one of perhaps several "sacred mountains" that will be sheltered from the cataclysm.

"This is no laughing matter," Jean-Pierre Delord, the mayor, told The Daily Telegraph.

"If tomorrow 10,000 people turn up, as a village of 200 people we will not be able to cope. I have informed the regional authorities of our concerns and want the army to be at hand if necessary come December 2012."

Mr Delord said people had been coming to the village for the past 10 years or so in search of alien life following a post in an UFO review by a local man, who has since died. "He claimed he had seen aliens and heard the humming of their spacecraft under the mountain," he said.

The Internet abounds with tales of the late President Francois Mitterrand being heliported on to the peak and mysterious digs conducted by the Nazis and later Mossad, the Israeli secret service.

Recently, however, interest in the site had skyrocketed, said the mayor, with online UFO websites advising people to seek shelter in Bugarach as the countdown to Armageddon commences.

Sigrid Benard, who runs a local guesthouse, said UFO tourists were taking over. "At first, my clientele was 72 per cent ramblers. Today, I have 68 per cent 'esoteric visitors'," he said.

Several "Ufologists" have bought properties in the hamlet of Le Linas, in the mountain's shadow, for "extortionate" prices and locals have complained they are being priced out of the market. Strange sect-like courses are held for up to euros 800 a week. "For this price, you are introduced to a guru, made to go on a procession, offered a christening and other rubbish, all payable in cash," said Mr Delord.

Valerie Austin, who is originally from Newcastle upon Tyne but settled in Bugarach 22 years ago, said the alien watchers were spoiling the village atmosphere.

"You can't go for a peaceful walk any more. It's a beautiful area, but now you find people chanting and lying around meditating."

Although she described the alien claims as "total rubbish", she said there was nevertheless "something special" about the area.

"It has a magnetic force in the scientific sense of the word. There is a special feeling here, but if I really believed the world were about to end, I'd have a whale of a time over the next two years rather than look for salvation," she said.

© Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph

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