Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 09:55 UK

Russian cult members 'leave cave'

Women cult members at the site of the Russian cave, 29 March 2008
Some women cult members left the cave at the weekend

Fourteen members of a doomsday cult who had been holed up in a cave in Russia for the last few months are reported to have come out.

On Saturday, seven members of the cult, who believe the world will end in May, came out of the cave.

Part of the cave is said to have collapsed, leading to fears for the life of the 14 remaining members.

In October, 28 cult members barricaded themselves in the cave 750km (450 miles) south-east of Moscow.

"Two rooms collapsed on Tuesday. As a result 14 people came to the surface, including two children," deputy Penza region governor Oleg Melchenkno is quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Priestly intervention

On Monday, a priest expert in the Book of Revelations, Fr Hermogen, was sent in to speak to cult members through a ventilation shaft.


On Saturday, seven women were allowed to leave with cult leader Pyotr Kuznetsov after he was brought to the scene to negotiate.

Up until now, cult members had strongly resisted attempts to force them out.

They threatened to detonate gas canisters if attempts were made to remove them.

Mr Kuznetsov, who calls himself Fr Pyotr, declared himself a prophet a number of years ago and has attracted followers in Russia and Belarus.

He is thought to have ordered his followers into the cave but did not join them.

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