*To the shock and distress of a handful of ultra-devout Christian believers, the sun went down yesterday on an America and a world that had  failed to end.

Instead of a series of earthquakes hitting successive countries at 6pm local time and heralding The Rapture – in which millions of the Faithful would ascend to heaven before the Second Coming of Christ – planet Earth simply carried on and, mostly, kept calm.

Middle East peace remained unresolved, political turmoil hit a few countries and bypassed many others. But by and large the world’s toiling billions, as usual, just got on with their lives.

The non-event was a great disappointment to followers of a hitherto obscure California-based religious group called Family Radio, which had lavished millions of dollars on a worldwide advertising campaign proclaiming yesterday as Judgment Day.

The group is centered on the teachings and broadcasts of prophet Harold Camping, an 89-year-old self-styled expert in the scriptures who told his followers that his interpretations of the Bible had uncovered the true date of the end of the world. Camping, who lives in the northern California town of Alameda, has previous form on this. He got the date wrong in 1994 when he said the world would end that year, and later explained its continued existence by saying he had made a mathematical error.

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