More than 60,000 people have swarmed into the sleepy village of Ranschbach near Mainz, West Germany, in recent weeks since claims of "miracle cures" at a village spring began appearing in the West German press.
Lines of 10,000 people have formed at the spring, named Our Beloved Lady of Kaltenbronn, during the past three weekends. Visitors clutch containers that are limited to five liters each because the spring produces only 12 liters of water a minute. Police maintain night patrols to keep away hundreds of visitors who search for the spring by dark.
The village has only 630 inhabitants. But encouraged by the attention, one large company reportedly was looking for a site to build a hotel in the village and local real estate agents were advertising building lots boasting a view of the spring. Lot prices have quadrupled.
An unidentified owner of a restaurant chain who claims he has been cured of a kidney ailment by the water has offered to donate $345,000 to build a chapel outside the village.
Heiner Geissler, West German minister for the family, has ordered chemical analysis of the water and the local Roman Catholic diocese has called for restraint.
Whatever the outcome of the analysis, Ranschbach's economic cup may still run over--oil deposits have just been found within 10 miles of the spring.