Cult probed amid prediction of West's imminent demise

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Dutch prosecutors said Wednesday that they have opened an investigation into a 100-member cult whose leader has predicted imminent disaster in the Western world and said his followers may kill themselves.

Police began looking into the group Efraim after member parents kept five children home from school in the eastern town of Borne, anticipating the end of the world. Prosecutors said they were worried by reports that members would take their own lives if forecasts of doom did not materialize.

"If (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, mainly because of the concern that they could take their lives into their own hands," said Mischa Tol, spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the city of Dordrecht.

The group's leader, who calls himself Elia, claims on a Web site to be a prophet and that "God spoke to me" and warned of imminent disaster in the Western world.