Kuznetsov is now in hospital being treated for serious head injuries, officials they suspect that he attempted suicide.

Negotiations

Local authorities in a remote part of the Penza region in central Russia where the members have been hidden have been conducting negotiations with the cult members to try to persuade them to come out.

They said they could not verify whether anyone had died until investigators had been underground.

"We can not make any official conclusion based on information presented by Nedogon. For the moment he has not presented any evidence," Sharonov Anatoli, a spokesman for Penza's governor, said.
 
"Negotiations are suspended, because the sect members are keeping a vow of silence. The official number of those in seclusion is 11 people."

If Nedogon is correct, it would mean only nine people remain alive underground.

End of the world

Located around 750km from Moscow, the group holed themselves up in the bunker in October to await the end of the world.

Seven female members of the cult left the bunker at the end of March, followed by a group of 14, including Nedogon, a few days later.

Since then a woman and two children have also emerged from the dugout.

They were prompted to leave after the walls began to collapse.