Suicide fears as cult prepares for end of the world 31, 2001

Dutch prosecutors have opened an investigation into a doomsday cult.

Efraim members kept their children home from school in anticipation of the end of the world.

Police began inquiries after five children stayed at home in Borne.

Public prosecutors were concerned by reports that members of Efraim would be prepared to take their own lives if forecasts of doom didn't materialise.

"If he (God) doesn't come for us, we will go ourselves," the group's leader has been quoted as saying.

"In cooperation with the police we decided to take the reports seriously," said spokesman Mischa Tol of the public prosecutor's office in Dordrecht.

"Mainly because of the concern that they could take their lives into their own hands."

The group's leader, who calls himself Elia, claims on a website to be a prophet and that "God spoke to me" and warned in advance of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

The group, which says it isn't a cult, has about 100 members, according to prosecutors. They are apparently refusing to contact friends and family and have been forced to bring younger children back to school.

The leader of Efraim, identified by Dutch media as J van Geene, lives in the small village of Puttershoek, about 53 miles south of Amsterdam.

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