BUSINESS INSIDER

Preppers Of The World, Mask Up! Survivalism And COVID-19

With the pandemic, survivalists around the world have new reasons to prepare for the day it all comes crashing down.

Les Primitifs members getting ready
Les Primitifs members getting ready
Laure Gautherin

Preparing for the end of the world has been going on for years. Survivalists and so-called "preppers' sprung up independently and in groups during the Cold War, largely out of the fear of a nuclear disaster. But since then, survivalism has evolved to encompass different fears, philosophies and visions of the future. Of course, it doesn't end well in any of them. But the sources of the would-be apocalypse varies, including war (foreign and domestic), environmental disaster, societal collapse, old-fashioned zombies and more.

But now, in the face of a deadly health pandemic, it seems all of us have gotten a taste of expecting (and getting) the worst. For preppers, COVID-19 may (or may not) be a time to adjust plans and sharpen the vision about how to make it when the ultimate disaster arrives.

Going "Primitive" in Quebec: Survivalism is not about stockpiling toilet paper when the government declares national lockdown. "True early preppers already had theirs," film director Christian Lalumière told Le Journal de Montréal. He recently filmed an eight-episode series called "The Last Humans' that follows a survivalist tribe, Les Primitifs (The Primitives), and aims at debunking the survivalist cliché of the old loner living in the woods, living off his homegrown food and guns.

• The focus is on what has been dubbed the "new-survivalism," a branch of the movement whose goal is mainly to reconnect with nature as an answer to all kinds of crises, from health to ecological to economic. Building a community is a big part of the philosophy.

• A very different kind of a survivalist interviewed by Radio Canada says the pandemic has exacerbated the fear of becoming the target for non-preppers, and people are buying weapons typically used for hunting for self-defense.

It's l'economia, stupido: Italian survivalists say they saw the health crisis coming and were ready for it. Their Rambo skills and stockpiled masks and food stock could be useful for the coming economic crash, unemployment and political chaos. The Italian online newspaper Linkiesta reports that more people are identifying as preppers among those financially hit by COVID-19, as well as those who fear the collapse of the government.

• More and more people are contacting survivalist groups looking to learn about producing their own resources, becoming self-sufficient and other basic survival savoir-faire in order to spend less and have less to worry about while looking for a new job and source of income.

Surviving Brexit, and then COVID-19: Long before the health crisis, another lingering threat had awakened survival instincts of some Britons: the specter of chaos and food shortages induced by Brexit trade shutdowns. As the separation with the European Union approached last December, The Guardian dubbed those stockpiling food as "Brexit hoarders." The arrival of COVID only amplified the new wave of worrying.

• Emergency Food Storage UK quickly began selling out its "Brexit Box," which contains one month worth of freeze-dried food plus a water filter and fire kit. According to the British outlet, demand has multiplied with COVID.

U.S. - Exile from nationwide unrest and natural disaster

In the cradle of survivalism, prepping gear is an ever more fruitful business. According to Business Insider Today, the demand for gas masks, hazmat suits and other survival gear has skyrocketed due to a mix of COVID fear and other national disturbances such as West Coast wildfires and Black Lives Matter protests. Prepping has simply gone mainstream.

The U.S. has long been among the avant-garde in terms of different forms of survivalism. For the wealthiest souls of the Silicon Valley, doomsday prepping means such action as getting laser eye surgery to increase chances of survival, buying multimillion-dollar remote properties in New Zealand, having a helicopter all gassed-up and ready to fly and of course, stockpiling guns and ammo. Surviving by any (financial) means necessary.

SARS revival and everyday survival in Singapore: Any good survivalist will tell you that preparation applies to all kinds of crisis, including a pandemic. But no prepper is more prepared than one who actually went through a health crisis. In his disaster-ready home, A prepper from Singapore who gave his name as Samuel explained to Channel News Asia how the SARS outbreak in 2003 convinced him to be ready for anything to save his family. He knew exactly what he needed when the nature of the coronavirus got clearer, adding items to his impressive survival kit because he resides in a red zone for dengue.

As explained on the Singaporian news channel, prepping is about being ready for anything, from natural catastrophe to kidnapping to heart attack. It is a way of life that must happen before all hell breaks, and it's about saving yourself as well as helping your neighbor.

Final takeaway: Skills and knowledge are at least as important as the equipment. Still, it's never too early to stockpile — masks and all.

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food / travel

The True Horrors Behind 7 Haunted Locations Around The World

With Halloween arriving, we have dug up the would-be ghosts of documented evil and bloodshed from the past.

Inside Poveglia Island's abandoned asylum

Laure Gautherin and Carl-Johan Karlsson

When Hallows Eve was first introduced as a Celtic festival some 2,000 years ago, bonfires and costumes were seen as a legitimate way to ward off ghosts and evil spirits. Today of course, with science and logic being real ghostbusters, spine-chilling tales of haunted forests, abandoned asylums and deserted graveyards have rather become a way to add some mystery and suspense to our lives.

And yet there are still spooky places around the world that have something more than legend attached to them. From Spain to Uzbekistan and Australia, these locations prove that haunting lore is sometimes rooted in very real, and often terrible events.

Shahr-e Gholghola, City of Screams - Afghanistan

photo of  ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola,

The ruins of Shahr-e Gholghola, the City of Screams, in Afghanistan

Dai He/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire


According to locals, ghosts from this ancient royal citadel located in the Valley of Bamyan, 150 miles northwest of Kabul, have been screaming for 800 years. You can hear them from miles away, at twilight, when they relive their massacre.

In the spring 1221, the fortress built by Buddhist Ghorids in the 6th century became the theater of the final battle between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, last ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire, and the Mongol Horde led by Genghis Khan. It is said that Khan's beloved grandson, Mutakhan, had been killed on his mission to sack Bamyan. To avenge him, the Mongol leader went himself and ordered to kill every living creature in the city, children included.

The ruins today bear the name of Shahr-e Gholghola, meaning City of Screams or City of Sorrows. The archeological site, rich in Afghan history, is open to the public and though its remaining walls stay quiet during the day, locals say that the night brings the echoes of fear and agony. Others claim the place comes back to life eight centuries ago, and one can hear the bustle of the city and people calling each other.

Gettysburg, Civil War battlefield - U.S.

photo of rocks and trees in Gettysburg

View of the battlefields from Little Round Top, Gettysburg, PA, USA

Unsplash/@nemo23


Even ghosts non-believers agree there is something eerie about Gettysbury. The city in the state of Pennsylvania is now one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for spirits and paranormal activities sight-seeing; and many visitors report they witness exactly what they came for: sounds of drums and gunshots, spooky encounters and camera malfunctions in one specific spot… just to name a few!

The Battle of Gettysburg, for which President Abraham Lincoln wrote his best known public address, is considered a turning point in the Civil War that led to the Union's victory. It lasted three days, from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863, but it accounts for the worst casualties of the entire conflict, with 23,000 on the Union side (3,100 men killed) and 28,000 for the Confederates (including 3,900 deaths). Thousands of soldiers were buried on the battlefield in mass graves - without proper rites, legend says - before being relocated to the National Military Park Cemetery for the Unionists.

Since then, legend has it, their restless souls wander, unaware the war has ended. You can find them everywhere, on the battlefield or in the town's preserved Inns and hotels turned into field hospitals back then.

Belchite, Civil War massacre - Spain

photo of sunset of old Belchite

Old Belchite, Spain

Belchite Town Council


Shy lost souls wandering and briefly appearing in front of visitors, unexplainable forces attracting some to specific places of the town, recorded noises of planes, gunshots and bombs, like forever echoes of a drama which left an open wound in Spanish history…

That wound, still unhealed, is the Spanish Civil War; and at its height in 1937, Belchite village, located in the Zaragoza Province in the northeast of Spain, represented a strategic objective of the Republican forces to take over the nearby capital city of Zaragoza.

Instead of being a simple step in their operation, it became the field of an intense battle opposing the loyalist army and that of General Francisco Franco's. Between August 24 and September 6, more than 5,000 people were killed, including half of Belchite's population. The town was left in rubble. As a way to illustrate the Republicans' violence, Franco decided to leave the old town in ruins and build a new Belchite nearby. All the survivors were relocated there, but they had to wait 15 years for it to be complete.

If nothing particular happens in new Belchite, home to around 1,500 residents, the remains of old Belchite offer their share of chilling ghost stories. Some visitors say they felt a presence, someone watching them, sudden change of temperatures and strange sounds. The ruins of the old village have been used as a film set for Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - with the crew reporting the apparition of two women dressed in period costumes - and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. And in October 1986, members of the television program "Cuarta Dimensión" (the 4th dimension) spent a night in Belchite and came back with some spooky recordings of war sounds.

Gur Emir, a conquerer’s mausoleum - Uzbekistan

photo of Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) i

Gur Emir (Tomb of Timur) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Chris Bradley/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire


The news echoed through the streets and bazaars of Samarkand: "The Russian expedition will open the tomb of Tamerlane the Great. It will be our curse!" It was June 1941, and a small team of Soviet researchers began excavations in the Gur-Emir mausoleum in southeastern Uzbekistan.

The aim was to prove that the remains in the tomb did in fact belong to Tamerlane — the infamous 14th-century conqueror and first ruler of the Timurid dynasty who some historians say massacred 1% of the world's population in 1360.

Still, on June 20, despite protests from local residents and Muslim clergy, Tamerlame's tomb was cracked open — marked with the inscription: "When I Rise From the Dead, The World Shall Tremble."

Only two days later, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, with the people of Samarkand linking it to the disturbing of Tamerlane's peace. Amid local protests, the excavation was immediately wrapped up and the remains of the Turkish/Mongol conqueror were sent to Moscow. The turning point in the war came with the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad — only a month after a superstitious Stalin ordered the return of Tamerlane's remains to Samarkand where the former emperor was re-buried with full honors.

Gamla Stan, a royal massacre - Sweden

a photo of The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

The red house of Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Unsplash/@hkblind


After Danish King Kristian II successfully invaded Sweden and was anointed King in November 1520, the new ruler called Swedish leaders to join for festivities at the royal palace in Stockholm. At dusk, after three days of wine, beer and spectacles, Danish soldiers carrying lanterns and torches entered the great hall and imprisoned the gathered nobles who were considered potential opponents of the Danish king. In the days that followed, 92 people were swiftly sentenced to death, and either hanged or beheaded on Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan (Old Town).

Until this day, the Stockholm Bloodbath is considered one of the most brutal events in Scandinavian history, and some people have reported visions of blood flowing across the cobblestoned square in early November. A little over a century later, a red house on the square was rebuilt as a monument for the executed — fitted with 92 white stones for each slain man. Legend has it that should one of the stones be removed, the ghost of the represented will rise from the dead and haunt the streets of Stockholm for all eternity.

Port Arthur, gruesome prison - Australia

a photo of ort Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Port Arthur Prison Settlement, Tasmania, Australia

Flickr/Eli Duke


During its 47-year history as a penal settlement, Port Arthur in southern Tasmania earned a reputation as one of the most notorious prisons in the British Empire. The institution — known for a brutal slavery system and punishment of the most hardened criminals sent from the motherland— claimed the lives of more than 1,000 inmates until its closure in 1877.

Since then, documented stories have spanned the paranormal gamut: poltergeist prisoners terrorizing visitors, weeping children roaming the port and tourists running into a weeping 'lady in blue' (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth). The museum even has an 'incidence form' ready for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly event.

Poveglia Island, plague victims - Italy

a photo of Poveglia Island, Italy

Poveglia Island, Italy

Mirco Toniolo/ROPI via ZUMA Press


Located off the coast of Venice and Lido, Poveglia sadly reunites all the classical elements of a horror movie: plagues, mass burial ground and mental institute (from the 1920's).

During the bubonic plague and other subsequent pandemics, the island served as a quarantine station for the sick and anyone showing any signs of what could be Black Death contamination. Some 160,000 victims are thought to have died there and the seven acres of land became a mass burial ground so full that it is said that human ash makes up more than 50% of Poveglia's soil.

In 1922 a retirement home for the elderly — used as a clandestine mental institution— opened on the island and with it a fair amount of rumors involving torture of patients. The hospital and consequently the whole island was closed in 1968, leaving all the dead trapped off-land.

Poveglia's terrifying past earned it the nickname of 'Island of Ghosts'. Despite being strictly off-limits to visitors, the site has been attracting paranormal activity hunters looking for the apparition of lost and angry souls. The island would be so evil that some locals say that when an evil person dies, he wakes up in Poveglia, another kind of hell.

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