London: A preacher from Oakland, California, has warned that the end of the world is nigh - 21st May 2011, to be precise.
At about 6pm, Harold Camping reckons 2 per cent of the world's population will be immediately "raptured" to Heaven; the rest of us will get sent straight to the Other Place.
Everyday, Camping, an 89-year-old former civil engineer, spreads his Doomsday predictions via the Family Radio Network, a religious broadcasting organisation funded entirely by donations from listeners.
"It's getting real close. It's really getting pretty awesome, when you think about it," the Independent quoted Camping as saying.
"We're not talking about a ball game, or a marriage, or graduating from college. We're talking about the end of the world, a matter of being eternally dead, or being eternally alive, and it's all coming to a head right now," he added.
After 70 years of studying the Bible, he claims to have developed a system that uses mathematics to interpret prophesies hidden in it. He says the world will end on 21 May, because that will be 722,500 days from 1 April AD33, which he believes was the day of the Crucifixion.
The figure of 722,500 is important because you get it by multiplying three holy numbers (five, 10 and 17) together twice. "When I found this out, I tell you, it blew my mind," he said.
Recent events, such as earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand and Haiti, are harbingers of impending doom, he says, as are changing social values. "It was sent by God as a sign of the end," he says.
Camping previously thought that the world was going to end on Sept. 6, 1994, but discovered that he had made a mathematical error.