Monday, October 8, 2012

Though relatively rare, reports of UFO crashes are perhaps not as uncommon as many might assume. At least two UFOs were reported to have fallen to Earth in 2006 alone, with two more such incidents ushering in the New Year. From South Africa, to Russia, to Iran, all of these reports have received national mainstream news coverage in their respective countries of origin, and all have been treated with utmost seriousness by local and national authorities.

Suddenly, a bright object plunged from the clouds

These most recent incidents, though, are not isolated; indeed, they are but a small brush-stroke in a much larger picture. Terrestrial crashes of what are usually termed ‘Unidentified Flying Objects’ are hardly a new phenomenon – long before the famous ‘Roswell Incident’ of 1947 ushered in the modern UFO age, unknown aerial vehicles were reported to have crashed on many occasions around the world (see FT181:30–36 for another early example). In the United States, the USSR, Italy, Pakistan, Australia, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and even the UK, it was immediately clear to those who witnessed the crashes that something odd was going on in the skies above our Earth.

Following World War II, the number of reported crashes increased dramatically and by 1980 had reached at least 150 worldwide. 1 The crashes continued apace throughout the 1990s, with approximately 60 incidents reported. Perhaps the most notable of these occurring on 20 January 1996, in the town of Varghinia, Brazil. Central to this case were allegations that the Brazilian authorities had captured live alien occupants of a downed cigar-shaped UFO in the region, and that these beings were then handed over to the US military. Outlandish as this story may sound, it was given some substance in the form of testimony by numerous reliable eyewitnesses, including Brazilian military police officers, firemen, and doctors who claimed to have witnessed the beings firsthand. These claims, in turn, were supported by an abundance of physical evidence, including, somewhat disturbingly, the mysterious death of a Brazilian military police officer who had allegedly come into direct contact with one of the small bipedal creatures at the time of their capture. Corporal Marco Chereze’s family was told by the authorities that he had died from exposure to a ‘toxic substance’, but was denied access to his autopsy results. The Brazilian military has yet to provide a convincing explanation for what occurred in Varghinia, maintaining to this day that what witnesses saw were not aliens, but rather “an expectant dwarf couple” and “a mentally handicapped dwarf”! 2 (For more fatal UFO encounters in Brazil, and elsewhere, see Nigel Watson’s ‘Death by UFO’, FT147:34–39.)


Although seemingly rather mundane when compared to the exotic narrative of the ‘Varghinia incident’, the world’s most recent UFO crashes are not without their own share of genuine mystery. On 20 May 2006, News24.com (South Africa’s premier online news resource) reported that “numerous eye-witnesses” in Port Shepstone on the south coast of the KwaZulu-Natal Province had observed “an unidentified flying object crashing into the sea” earlier that day. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was apparently monitoring the “mysterious situation” as it developed. “Police, rescue craft and a fixed-wing aircraft were alerted to the scene to investigate,” reported News24.com, who quoted Eddie Noyons, the NSRI Shelly Beach station commander, as saying that “eye-witnesses had reported an unidentified object… crashing into the sea behind the breaker line off-shore from the Port Shepstone High School”. Noyons stated that “following a full-scale search of the area covering 12 square nautical miles, nothing has been found… there are no reports of activity in the area that may be related to this incident, and there are no aircraft reported overdue or missing.” (FT212:30, 215:26)


According to Noyons, numerous eye-witnesses, including teachers and pupils attending a sports event at the high school, as well as bystanders and local fishermen, “were convinced” they had seen an object go into the water, and had described seeing “flames” and “water exploding”. Other witnesses also reported that a plume of smoke lingered for several minutes above the water where the object came down. “We will continue to monitor the situation, which remains a mystery”, Noyons told reporters. 3 As Jenny Randles noted (FT215:26), one possible explanation was that a tornado had briefly touched down on the ocean surface, creating a waterspout that was interpreted by witnesses as something crashing into the sea; although this certainly doesn’t explain all of the visual aspects of the sighting.

Seven months later, on 1 December 2006, another UFO was reported to have crashed in the remote Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia. Multiple Russian news sources, including RIA-Novosti, Mosnews.com, Interfax, and Newslab, reported that the crash, which was observed by local villagers between the towns of Yeniseisk and Lesosibirsk, had apparently caused a forest fire. “There are traces of a fire in the taiga [forest],” Krasnoyarsk Territory Directorate for Internal Affairs (CDIA) observed regarding the incident. The Ministry for Emergencies added: “According to the air service, no aircraft were moving in that area at that time,” and “No air vessels were missing.” Law enforcement authorities in the region told Interfax news service that residents in the area had seen a “flying apparatus” plunge from the sky at about 10am.


Authorities obviously regarded this situation with some considerable gravity, as a specialist team – made up of police investigators and representatives from the Transport Prosecutors Service and the Aircraft safety watchdog Rosavianadzor – was dispatched immediately to the site of the crash. In addition, the Local Emergencies Directorate sent a helicopter to investigate. 4

Later that same day, however, Siberian officials issued a rather unusual statement to the effect that nothing unusual had occurred in Krasnoyarsk. The Siberian Regional Centre of the Ministry for Emergencies spokesperson, Sergey Andriyanko, told reporters that all of the local witnesses “had reported false information” about the crash, and that – despite previous official claims to the contrary – there was now no evidence of the reported forest fire. “We report officially it has been a false alarm,” Andriyanko said. 5 There was talk of a hoax, but suddenly the Russian media fell silent regarding the entire affair, with apparently not a single news service issuing a follow-up report on the events. Much like Siberia itself, this case was now decidedly cold, and one can be fairly certain it will stay that way.


Exactly one month later, on Monday, 1 January 2007, the ufological spotlight fell once again on South Africa – this time on the mining town of Lephalale, where a respected local resident had reported yet another crash landing. Once more, News24.com picked up the story: “A UFO was sighted at Lephalale, where it was described as a strange object ‘on an orange cloud, singing like a million turbines’ hitting the earth with a bang [at 04:33 in the morning]”.


The crash was witnessed by Leonie Ras (administrative manager of Lephalale) at her daughter’s farm, just east of the town. “I was lying on my bed reading SMS-messages, said Ras, “when I heard a noise like an Airbus aircraft firing up its motors… it was raining but there was no thunder or lightning. The noise grew louder and eventually it sounded like a million turbines screaming in unison”.


Ras told police that she “walked to the bedroom window and saw the clouds taking on a bright orange-red colour… suddenly, a bright object plunged from the clouds to the earth, at a terrible speed, and hit the ground with an almighty bang.” The sight was so awesome that she was momentarily overwhelmed: “It was so exceptional that I started crying. I wished my children and grandchildren could have seen it. I had not been drinking and I was in full control of my faculties.”

Cobus Nel, her son-in-law, who was present in the house at the time, had also been stirred by the event: “I woke up to a terrible rumbling, followed by a sound like an explosion. I woke my wife up, so that she could also listen, because the rumbling lasted more than a minute, becoming louder; then we heard the bang,” he said.


Following Ras’s report, the Lephalale police station was inundated with enquires about the crash. But News24.com reported Superintendent Wessel Geldenhuys as saying that there was “no way of knowing where to start looking [for the object]”. Geldenhuys did suggest, however, that “the object could have fallen in Botswana [the border being about 28 miles/45km from the town]… we have had many queries, but no answers,” he conceded. 6 At the time of writing, the event remains unexplained.


Just nine days later, on 10 January, the Iranian FARS News Agency reported that a UFO had crashed in the central province of Kerman in the country’s interior: “Deputy Governor General of Kerman province Abulghassem Nasrollahi [stated] that the crash, which was followed by an explosion and a thick spiral of smoke, has caused no casualties or damage to properties.”


According to FARS, eyewitnesses were adamant that the explosion was the “result of the crash of a radiant, unidentified flying object onto the ground”. FARS also reported that an “informed source” had stated that the object was definitely “on fire” and that there had been “thick smoke coming out of it prior to the crash”. The crash was apparently witnessed by people in several cities, and best estimates at the time suggested a point of impact approximately 100 km (60 miles) from the provincial capital of Kerman.

The Deputy Governor General denied reports that the explosion had been the result of a plane or helicopter crash, and stressed that all airborne aircraft in the region had been safely accounted for. Although investigations into this incident are currently underway by police and “other relevant authorities”, conclusive answers regarding the case have yet to be provided by Iranian officials. Intriguingly though, FARS noted in the same report that people in the city of Rafsanjan had witnessed a similar incident several days prior to the Kerman Province crash, and that “similar crash incidents have been witnessed frequently during the last year all across Iran, and officials believe that the objects could be spy planes or a hi-tech espionage device.” 7

The true nature of these latest international UFO crashes are likely to remain a mystery, at least for the foreseeable future – and almost certainly for many years to come for the public at large. In the meantime, independent UFO researchers will no doubt be left to pick up the scattered pieces of these puzzles, and to do with them what they can in the face of inevitable ridicule and official denial.