The little village of Bugarach in southwest France has found itself under media siege this week as the result of internet-fuelled stories that it will survive the end of the world – supposedly due on Friday when the Mayan calendar expires.
A strangely shaped mountain called the Pic de Bugarach, which overshadows the village, is the centre of attention, having for years been associated with tales of extraterrestrial powers. Apparently, the rocks at the top of the peak are millions of years older than those layered below, endowing it with mysterious qualities.
According to internet lore, the mountain will offer protection to local inhabitants from the coming apocalypse. One notion is that it will open up and aliens will emerge to rescue those waiting for redemption.
More than 200 journalists and camera crews from around the world have flocked to the village for the big day, far outnumbering the handful of people who have travelled to Bugarach in search of shelter from the world’s demise, according to reports from the scene.
The local authorities have drafted in 150 police, shut off access to the mountain and imposed restrictions on movement around the village in an attempt to keep control.
Those deterred by such measures had the choice of other sites deemed havens from cataclysm in Turkey, Italy and Serbia.