Reports of the end of the world appeared to have been exaggerated today.
Judgment Day Believers Proclaim May 21 Is Day Of Armageddon Photo: GETTY
By Bonnie Malkin, in Sydney, and David Barrett 8:00AM BST 21 May 2011
Inhabitants of New Zealand, scheduled to be among the first to meet the apocalypse according to a US fundamentalist preacher, this morning confirmed they were still in existence as the appointed time was reached in their time zone.
There were also unconfirmed reports that Tonga has, thus far, failed to boil into the Pacific.
Eighty-nine-year-old tele-evangelist Harold Camping had prophesied that the “Rapture” would begin with powerful earthquakes at 6pm in each of the world’s regions, after which the good would be beamed up to heaven.
This morning, Kiwis confirmed there were no signs of the dead rising from the grave, nor of the living ascending into the clouds to meet Jesus Christ.
Twitter users were disappointed by the absence of Armaggedon.
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Daniel Boerman said on Twitter, the micro-blogging website: “I’m from New Zealand, it is 6.06pm, the world has NOT ended. No earthquakes here, all waiting for the Rapture can relax for now.”
Gavin Middleton wrote: “Well it’s 13 minutes past the Rapture here in New Zealand. I’m still holding out hope for the trumpet call and the firey rain...”
Similarly, on the Pacific islands whose clocks ticked over to 6pm before the fateful hour hit New Zealand, there was no evidence of a “super horror story” predicted by Camping - no zombies, no true believers hurtling skywards, no arch-angels and no trumpeters.
A post on Godlike Productions, a website dedicated to conspiracy theories and UFOs, reported that Tonga, which reached 6pm one hour before New Zealand, was “still on the map”.
Likewise, no reports of chaos were heard from Christmas Island in Kiribati, where the super-earthquake was set to hit first.
Two minor earthquakes did hit the Pacific earlier in the day, measuring 3.1 and 4.8 and not triggering any tsunami warnings, but earthquakes of that magnitude are a regular occurrence in the region.
Vicky Hyde, spokesman for the New Zealand Skeptic Society said she was confident the Rapture was not imminent.
“These kind of predictions come up particularly in times of economic or social uncertainty - which is pretty much almost every year actually, you can track them, whether it’s commentary impacts or the rapture or giant space aliens or something.
“And the only thing they have in common is they are all wrong,” she said.
Camping spread his message of doom via Family Radio, which has a network of 66 radio stations and online broadcasts.
After today’s day of reckoning, he said non-believers would suffer through hell on earth until October 21, when God would pull the plug on the planet once and for all.
But after incorrectly predicting the end of the world in 1994, Camping’s prophecies have been met with derision. And it seems this time he was wrong again.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg - who is Jewish and, according to Camping’s prophecy, therefore unlikely to be beamed up to sit alongside Jesus in heaven - said on his weekly radio show yesterday that he would partially suspend parking restrictions in New York if the world ended today.
David Speer, on Twitter, said: “Oh well no rapture. Just as well. New Zealand didn’t need that right now. Another delay to the filming of The Hobbit would’ve been terrible.”