Predictions of a dead Italian seismologist about a massive quake have caused panic among thousands of Romans, leading them to leave the capital.
People are leaving Rome following rumors that Raffaele Bendandi predicted that the Italian capital will be devastated by a quake on May 11, the state-funded BBC reported.
Although officials insist that quakes cannot be predicted, many people are leaving the city for safer places and there are reports of an 18 percent increase in the number of employees planning to stay away from work.
"I'm going to tell the boss I've got a medical appointment and take the day off," barman Fabio Mengarelli told Reuters.
"If I have to die, I want to die with my wife and kids, and masses of people will do the same as me."
Many others, however, said they would stay in the city and make the most of their time with the capital being slightly quieter.
"It's all just stupid - but anyway if it does happen it would be a good thing, tidy things up a bit," said Augusto Costa.
Franceso Verselli said that Rome would not be destroyed because the Pope lives there.
"Wherever the Pope is, nothing will happen."
Bendandi, who was knighted by Mussolini in 1927 for his prophetic meteorological skill, was believed to have used his skills to accurately predict a 1923 quake that killed 1,000 people. He died in 1979.
The seismologist believed that the movement of the planets caused seismic activity and predicted that Rome would be totally destroyed on May 11, 2011, followed by two more catastrophic events in May 2012.
President of the Osservatorio Geofisico Comunale, the foundation that honors Bendandi, said that they had no record of such prediction, dismissing it as an urban myth.
"I can say with absolute certainty that in the papers of Raffaele Bendandi there is no provision for an earthquake in Rome on the 11 May 2011," said Paola Lagorio.
"The date is not there, nor is the place."