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    * * *

    The truth is out there for the UFO spotters

    A STORM of periwinkles raining down on Worcester's streets? Vertical blue lights shooting out of the ground in Crowle? `Out of this world' flashes in the sky?

    These bizarre incidents certainly sound stranger than fiction, but all have graced the pages of the Worcester News and its sister paper the Berrow's Journal over the years.

    The vertical blue lights spotted by Pershore man Paul Pritchard last July have been explained as being a sun pillar - a phenomenon caused by light hitting ice and dust in the upper atmosphere.

    The periwinkles fell on Oldbury Road, St John's, in profusion in 1881 prompting hundreds of locals to spend days gathering them up - and while it may have seemed unexplained at the time, it was caused by what is now known as the `water spout' phenomenon.

    The snail-like sea molluscs would have been lifted by a typhoon on the coast or over the sea before being deposited in the Faithful City.

    And the flashes of light witnessed by many Worcester News readers in February 2004 were most likely caused by one of the city's beloved swans flying into power lines.

    But there are many more incidents that have just come to light that don't have any reasonable explanations.

    This week, the Ministry of Defence published its entire list of UFO reports from 2002 to 2005, showing dates and times, location and brief description of the sighting.

    And there are several from Worcestershire.

    Perhaps the most bizarre is a sighting at 11pm on August 23, 2003, over the A38 in the south of the city.

    According to one witness, heading north over the road on this day was a "helium-type balloon, the size of a moon, with flashing blue and red lights". On April 15, 2002, "one big, round, bright star coloured yellow and red moved upwards" over Worcester, while on July 15, 2003 "a light was seen, erratic movement and stationary" above Malvern.

    Then, on August 14, 2003, at 11.57pm, a "very bright white light, bigger than a star, but quickly diminishing in size until it completely disappeared" was also spotted in Worcester.

    Michael Soper, of UFO group Contact UK International, said the sightings were very exciting.

    Michael himself has every reason to believe that the little green men seem to favour our county as the very reason he became interested in UFOs was because of something he witnessed in Malvern in 1960.

    "I was walking on the hills when I saw an A-bomber fly over with a silver disc oscillating around it.

    "It was completely silent and as the plane travelled north east and into cloud, the object zoomed off."

    Since then, Michael has witnessed other strange phenomenon in the county - including tumbling black and fawn objects that seemed to do acrobatics in the air, and white falling `luminocities' that gave off an `extremely memorable' light.

    "Worcestershire has a long history with the unexplained," he added.

    "In seeing something out of the ordinary you have to rise above the rest of the human race," he said.

    If you spot anything unusual you can call Mr Soper on 01865 726908.

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