Preparing for Apocalypse

Preparing for Apocalypse

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How do you get ready for the end of the world, which some believe will strike on Dec. 21 2012, the supposed "Mayan apocalypse"? One man living in China thinks he has the answer: constructing survival pods.

Liu Qiyuan’s high tech Noah’s Arks are equipped with seat belts, oxygen tanks, power generators, batteries and food supplies, and are built to withstand anything that doomsday has to throw at them.

. XIANGHE, China. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Forty-five-year-old Liu Qiyuan used to be the owner of a furniture factory, but now he has turned to building survival capsules with the help of his former workers. Liu invested nearly $300,000 to build six "Noah's Arks" over the course of 8 months and he is now working on his seventh pod in the run-up to the end of the Mayan calendar, and the prediction of the end of the world.

. XIANGHE, China. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

The survival pods have a volume of 17 cubic-metres, are 4 metres tall and weigh 4.2 tons. They are built to serve as lifeboats in the event of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.

. XIANGHE, China. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Liu says that even if the end of the world does not strike on Dec. 21, the pods will still be useful in the event of natural disasters.

. XIANGHE, China. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

Liu’s pods are furnished with seatbelts, and are supposed to be equipped with enough supplies to sustain their passengers for at least two months.

"A Chinese saying goes: 'It's better to be prepared for nothing, than to be unprepared for something'."
Petar Kujundzic, Reuters Photographer

Is the world coming to an end on Dec. 21, 2012 as the ancient Mayans predicted more than 2,000 years ago? And are you ready for doomsday?

One man certainly is. We saw a short video about a farmer in northern China who built several “pod” contraptions to help survive the Mayan prophesy, and we decided to go to his village and try to find him.

Helped by local villagers, it was relatively easy to find his little factory. When we got there we found ourselves in front of several giant cannonball-shaped objects sitting in his courtyard.

Liu Qiyuan, a 45-year-old former owner of a furniture factory, started drawing concepts for his doomsday survival device after his daughter became afraid of natural disasters years earlier.

The original, named "The Enemy of Shipwreck", was a 4-metre-tall survival capsule weighing 4.2 tons, with the capacity to hold 30 people. The pods are equipped with seat belts, oxygen tanks, power generators, batteries and food supplies. According to the inventor, this is enough to sustain passengers for at least two months.

One of the pods could be seen floating in a large canal near Liu's village after it had been successfully tested. Liu invested a small fortune - around 2 million yuan (300,000 U.S. dollars) - to build seven versions of the pod, which he hopes one day will be mass-produced.

He is aware that the 2012 apocalypse won't necessarily happen, but he strongly believes his pods could be used for tsunamis, shipwrecks on the open sea or earthquakes, “You can be sure disasters will happen around the world in the future. It is important to be ready”, Liu said.

A Chinese saying goes: “It's better to be prepared for nothing, than to be unprepared for something”.

If and when great floods do come on Dec. 21 followed by three days and nights of darkness, as many believe they will, at least one Chinese farmer and his family will be safe.

(Writing by Petar Kujundzic; Editing by Hannah Vinter)