7 Doomsday cult female members leave bunker after 5 months

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Moscow, Mar 29 (UNI) Seven female members of Russia's Doomsday cult have come out of their bunker in the hills in Penza Region, where they have been awaiting the end of the world.

They have been holed up in a dugout together with 29 members of the cult since last November to escape the Apocalypse which they believe would come in May.

The women emerged from their bunker voluntarily yesterday evening and insisted on being placed in the home of Doomsday cult founder Pyotr Kuznetsov as a condition for negotiations, Penza Deputy Governor Oleg Melnichenko told Russian state TV channel Vesti.

Melnichenko said four of those still underground were children.

Police had repeatedly denied that they were planning to storm the cave to try and rescue the children involved.

The group had been hiding in the bunker since November to ''save themselves during the time of the Apocalypse,'' in May. It threatened to set themselves on fire if any attempt was made to force them out of the cave.

Mr Melnichenko said about a third of the dugout's roof had now collapsed, and the group was now cramped into the remaining section, adding the roots of trees above the enclosure are keeping the roof from collapsing altogether.

The seven women were reportedly in good health, and two of them were negotiating with the authorities. They had asked to remain in Kuznetsov's house for three months.

The sect leader, who ordered the group into the cave but did not join them, had been held in an asylum in Penza, about 600 km southeast of Moscow, since November.

Last Wednesday Kuznetsov was declared mentally unfit to stand trial.He had earlier been charged with inciting religious and racial hatred.

He has recently explained his decision not to join his followers in the cave by speaking of ''another mission in life.'' UNI XC SYU PM1720

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