US preacher 'got dates wrong' for end of the world – it's really 21 October

As crestfallen followers of a California preacher who foresaw the world's end strained to find meaning in their lives, Harold Camping revised his apocalyptic prophecy, saying the Earth will actually be obliterated on 21 October.

Mr Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to Heaven on Saturday before global cataclysm struck the planet, has revealed he felt so terrible when his doomsday message did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife. But he was not backing down, apologising only for not having the dates "worked out as accurately as I could have".

Through chatting with a friend over the weekend, the light dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to Heaven, 21 May had instead been a "spiritual" Judgement Day, which places the entire world under Christ's judgement. The globe will be destroyed in five months, when the apocalypse comes, he insisted, and his network will broadcast Christian programmes until the final end on 21 October.

It's not the first time the 89-year-old retired civil engineer has had to explain failed predictions. Mr Camping also prophesied the apocalypse would come in 1994, but said that didn't happen due to a mathematical error.

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