Police in Ethiopia have arrested a “doomsday prophet” who sparked panic in a village northern Amhara region after claiming it would be wiped out on Monday, state-owned Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA) reports.

The prediction prompted residents to shut schools and businesses for several days, AMMA reported.

The man told his followers in the village of Ergoye that he had received the message after visiting “paradise”.

“I have just returned from paradise with a message from God. The people in my area will be wiped out on Monday.

“When I entered paradise I met a woman who said she is the Virgin Mary, I also met God,” AMMA quoted him as saying.

Ethiopia is a deeply religious society but in recent years there have been a growth in charismatic preachers who encourage cultic following. (Daily monitor)