Thousands of people around the world anxiously awaiting the end of the world on Friday have seen the predicted time of the world's end come and go without incident.
The end of the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar on December 21st was thought by many to herald the apocalypse, with the end expected by many at 11.11 GMT. The date marks the end of an era that lasted over 5,000 years, or 13 "bak'tuns", according to the calendar.
Fears of mass suicides, power cuts, a magnetic shift in the poles, and a collision with a previously unsighted planet hurtling toward Earth circulated on the Internet in the run up to the day.Events around the world to mark the date included gatherings at Mayan ruins, holy sites in southern Mexico, a sacred mountain in France, Stalin's bunker in Moscow, and Bugarach in the French Pyrenees, where doomsday believers waited for aliens to whisk them to safety.
But dawn broke in Mexico and the morning passed peacefully in France, where journalists outnumbered those seeking salvation and a party atmosphere prevailed.
Fears of mass suicides, power cuts, a magnetic shift in the poles, and a collision with a previously unsighted planet hurtling toward Earth circulated on the Internet in the run up to the day.
Scholars and scientists and even modern Mayans sought to debunk the myths, pointing out that the end of the 13th bak'tun in the civilisation's calendar was simply the beginning of a new cycle. Speculation persisted however, and authorities around the world took action over rumours and planned gatherings.
In China, police arrested nearly 100 people for spreading rumours about December 21st and authorities in Argentina restricted access to a mountain popular with UFO-spotters after rumors began spreading that a mass suicide was planned.
The mayor of Bugarach was forced to plead with fanatics to stay away from the small French village and police in the village banned two rave parties in the surroundings and blocked several people attempting to reach the peak of its 1,230m mountain.
One man seeking to reach the top was arrested in possession of a Taser, said Eric Freysselinard, the local government official. A party of four young British men evaded gendarmes to reach the peak and watch the sun rise. They claimed to be the only people to have take photographs at dawn, but the only “UFOs” they sawy were just clouds shaped like flying saucers.
“We left at 3am and arrived at 7am. We went up without any lights. Whenever we saw police we went in another direction. The police didn’t get out of their cars. We went up the back way,” Will Hartley, 26, a photographer from London told the Telegraph.
The group had already climbed the mountain and stayed in a cave earlier in the week but were caught by police.
“Neither he nor his friends believed in the end of the world scenario but were delighted to have get to the top. I thought we would see people up there but we saw nobody.”
“We wanted to say we had been there on 21st December and we did it.”
Frédéric, 28, an unemployed waiter from Marseille and his brother Laurent, 35, said they had hoped to be whisked away by an “interdimensional vortex” on the mount but said they were “not disappointed” when it failed to materialise.
In Britain, hundreds gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the Mayan date, which coincides with the Winter Solstice.
Arthur Uther Pendragon, Britain's best-known druid, told the Associated Press he was anticipating a much larger Winter Solstice crowd than usual at the historic site but did not expect the end of the world.
"We're looking at it more as a new beginning than an end," he said. "We're looking at new hope."
Maya experts and scientists have maintained that the civilisation's calendar had not predicted the world's end.
"The whole thing was a misconception from the very beginning," said Dr. John Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy. "The Maya calendar did not end on Dec. 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date."
"Think of it like Y2K," James Fitzsimmons, a Maya expert at Middlebury College in Vermont told Reuters. "It's the end of one cycle and the beginning of another cycle."