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Net chatters citing Nostradamus quote

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SINGAPORE — Internet chat rooms are abuzz with talk that 16th century French astrologer Nostradamus forecast the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

Thousands of people have received e-mails containing this prophecy, often with a second part forecasting that the attack on the twin towers will mark the beginning of World War III.

Several versions are doing the rounds. This is one of them:

"In the year of the new century and nine months

From the sky will come a great King of Terror

The sky will burn at forty-five degrees

Fire approaches the new city."

The text corresponds roughly to a verse in Nostradamus's Century (section) Six, Quatrain 97. Several books on Nostradamus have speculated that this quatrain's first line refers to September 2001, the ninth month in the first year of the new century, while the 45 degrees is interpreted as the latitude of the city of New York.

But New York lies just below 41 degrees latitude and Nostradamus' verse does not mention a great war, contrary to what several e-mails say. In many e-mails, the verse comes with a second part, which seems harder to link to Nostradamus:

"In the city of York there will be a great collapse

Two twin brothers torn apart by chaos

While the fortress falls the great leader will succumb

Third big war will begin when the big city is burning."

"(This second quatrain) is NOT by Nostradamus," read a statement on www.nostradamus-repository.org, a Web site for Nostradamus study.

Hoax or not, various versions of the verse are being forwarded by the thousands every day.

"Initially, I was really sceptical, but I went to the Web to look up something on (Nostradamus). Some prophecies have come true," Agnes Ng, a 23-year old Singaporean accountancy student, told Reuters on Thursday.

An e-mail she received was even more specific, forecasting that:

"The big war will begin when the big city is burning

on the 11th day of the 9th month that . . .

two metal birds would crash into two tall statues

in the new city and the world will end soon after."

One of the newsgroup contributors who goes by the e-mail moniker of "Justaguy" said this was a fake.

"It has been posted ad nauseam," he said.

Nostradamus prophecies surface after nearly every major news event. False or real, they struck a chord in Singapore.

Bookstore salespeople told Reuters there had been strong demand for books on Nostradamus since Tuesday's attacks.