UP to 200 Irish people have taken the ultimate precaution to ensure their survival in the event of a nuclear apocalypse or a massive natural disaster - by applying for space in a luxury communal bunker.
A Californian-based company behind the secretive project is planning to roll out a network of 20 vast doomsday shelters across America that would allow thousands of people to live underground together in "four-star" comfort for a year in the event of a nuclear catastrophe.
Despite the hefty price tag - costing between €21,500 ($25,000) and €43,000 ($50,000) for a place - a number of Irish nationals have already splashed out the full amount, while 200 more have made applications for shelter in the handful of already-completed post-Armageddon complexes.
Vivos, the company behind the project, claims that life will carry on as normal in the shelters, measuring from 10,000 sq ft to 250,000 sq ft, with each facility supplied with filtered air, a hospital, classrooms, its own water supply, a bakery, a gym, a hair salon, a workshop, a garden area and even a prison.
The firm's ambitious chiefs said the communal facilities will house between 80 and 5,000 people, depending on size, with families accommodated in private suites, with a lounge, kitchen area, private baths and showers.
The company's founder, Robert Vicino, said the Irish public has continued to show a keen interest in the project, with up to 10 people already forking out the full amount for residence in one of the few completed nuclear-hardened shelters. And he said a further 200 Irish nationals are among the almost 50,000 people globally who have "taken the first step" by applying for space in a fortified shelter.
He said: "[The 200 applicants] have already gone through their first stage of vetting. Final evaluation and approval is done if and when they are ready to proceed, wherein we have extensive discussions to answer each other's questions, such as any criminal record, financial ability, attitude, ability to cohabitate with others, and their skills.
"The Irish interest has remained strong from the onset of Vivos. The affordability has been the biggest obstacle."