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French doomsday haven turns into apocalyptic media circus

Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA

Two men dressed in tinfoil stand in the French village of Bugarach on Friday. The mountain near Bugarach was touted as a haven from the Maya apocalypse, but most of those who came to the village on the big day were journalists.



Doomsday was a bust in the French village of Bugarach, which was supposed to be one of the rare safe havens during the Maya apocalypse.

In advance of today's supposed global crisis, rumor-mongers spread the word that a peak near the picturesque village in the French Pyrenees (population: 200) would be the only place on Earth to escape destruction. A giant UFO and aliens were said to be waiting under the mountain, ready to burst through and spirit those nearby to safety.


When the rumors cropped up, authorities worried that tens of thousands of New Agers would overwhelm the village — so French gendarmes tried to seal off access to anyone not having the proper papers.

Some believers made it through. Ludovic Broquet, a 30-year-old plumber, told The Associated Press that he put a year of preparation into his trek, in hopes of finding a "gateway, the vortex that will open up here (at) the end of the world."

But most of the visitors to Bugarach today were journalists. The Telegraph's Henry Samuel was among the throng looking for action in the village. He found two brothers from Marseille who spent the night in a cave on the mountainside waiting for the vortex to open.

Although they never found the vortex, they did report seeing a bluish light in the cave in the middle of the night.  "It stopped, started to look at us, and rushed towards us," one of the brothers, identified as Laurent, told The Telegraph. "I had a feeling of ecstasy. It’s hard to describe. We had our fair dose and are on our way out."

Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA

People gather in the French village of Bugarach on Friday while authorities block access to a nearby mountain.

The journalists are on their way out, too, leaving behind some miffed villagers. "What is going on here is the creation of an urban legend," Michele Pous told AP.

Pous blamed the folks who started the rumors: "They created a media frenzy, they created a false event, they manipulated people."

More about the non-apocalypse:


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.