Claims that the world will end on Friday have gained traction in China (Reuters)
Claims that the world will end on Friday have gained traction in China 

More than 100 people have been arrested in China for spreading rumours about the supposed Mayan apocalypse due to take place on 21 December.

State media reports that 37 of those arrested belong to "cult" Christian group the Almighty God, who are accused of "brainwashing" people into thinking the end of the world is near.

Those arrested are believed to follow the ancient Mayan prophecy, which states 21 December 2012 - the last day of the 5,125-year "Long Count" Mayan calendar - will be doomsday.

Police report that members of the Almighty God, also called Eastern Lightning, believe that "the sun will not shine and electricity will not work for three days beginning on December 21".

A number of leaflets discs, banners, books and other materials proclaiming the impending apocalypse were seized by police during the arrests.

One of the pamphlets read: "Dec 21 is approaching, and on that day half of the world's good people will die, and all evil people will die out - only if you join the Almighty God movement can you avoid death and be saved."

One text message that was allegedly being spread by the group read: "Great tsunamis and earthquakes are about to happen around the world."

Chinese media has been filled with doomsday-related stories, resulting in some newspaper editors publishing expert views to publicly refute the claims of an upcoming Apocalypse.

A man in Hein province, identified as Min Youngjun, attacked 23 children at an elementary school with a knife, reportedly because he was "psychologically affected" by such predictions, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

A farmer in the far-western Xinjiang Autonomous Region also spent about £100,000 to build an ark with 60 tonnes of steel and 30 protective layers of fibre resin in preperation for the supposed end of the world.

The "Almighty God" cult was established in 1990 in central China's Henan Province. It requires its members to surrender their property to the group and preaches that Jesus has reappeared as a woman in central China

The state-run Huashang website reported that the group is urging followers to "exterminate the great red dragon" - a reference to the Communist Party - "and found a country under the rule of Almighty God."

Chinese authorities have referred to the group as an "evil cult" that is guilty of embezzlement, kidnapping and torture.