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China detains doomsday cult members

A Mayan doomsday prediction has inspired China's 'Almighty God' group Credit: PA

Chinese authorities have detained around 1,000 people as they step up a crackdown against a doomsday cult called 'Almighty God' that has been predicting the world will end on Friday, state media reported.

In recent weeks, hundreds of members of the Almighty God group have clashed with police across the country.

The government says it is a cult calling for a "decisive battle" to slay the "Red Dragon" Communist Party.

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Mayan Apocalypse: Survivalists warned away from village

Survivalists have been warned away from Bugarach - a French village some believe will be one of the few surviving places when the "apocalypse" happens tomorrow.

The tiny Pyrenean village has been placed in lockdown by the French authorities over fears that sightseers, media and doomsday predicters will outnumber the 120Bugarach residents.

The village's mayor, Jean-Pierre Delord, said he expected Bugarach to be standing next week but warned the rest of the world to stay away.

One British tourist in the village said he had made the trip because "it's a good place maybe to make party, meet friends and you know, have some games with the gendarmes."

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The Mayan Civilisation

The Maya Civilisation (AD 300-900) was one of the most sophisticated in the pre-Columbian Americas.

A woman sells Maya figurines in Honduras Credit: Reuters

It extended from southeastern Mexico across modern-day Guatemala, Belize and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador.

The Maya were never politically unified but lived in around sixty separate kingdoms, each with its own ruler.

By about AD 800 Maya civilization was in decline. Building and monument-making stopped and in some places there is evidence of violence and destruction.

The problems may have been caused by warfare and agricultural crisis. Despite this 'collapse', the Maya survived in reduced numbers.

There are about six million Maya alive today.

The Mayan apocalypse

The Maya temple of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza, Mexico Credit: Reuters

December 21 marks the end of an era that lasted over 5000 years, according to the Mayan "Long Count" calendar.

Some believe the date, which coincides with the December solstice, marks the end of the world as foretold by Mayan hieroglyphs.

But scholars have ridiculed the idea, and say the date simply marks the end of the old Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new one.

The central American region where the Mayans lived is experiencing a tourism bonanza ahead of the fateful December 21 date.

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