[CNI News thanks James Sutton for forwarding this item, which appeared on the UPI newswire on October 15, 1996.]
BANGKOK, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Thai officials expressed bewilderment Tuesday over claims by hundreds of residents of a village north of Bangkok that they have been followed by "fireballs" of unknown origin.
The phenomenon, reported on the front pages of several of the country's leading newspapers, attracted more than a thousand curious people Monday evening hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious glowing objects in Kumslod village in Saena district of Ayuthaya province, 47 miles north of Bangkok.
"At first I did not believe it when villagers came and asked me to investigate these fireballs," said Dumrong Kaewkudun, a Saena district administrative officer.
"I suspected them to be hoaxes played on factory girls by naughty boys," he said in a telephone interview. "But when I went to the village I saw it was true. These things are about the size of a volleyball. They come as many as three at a time, but sometimes only one. If there are many people around they float very high, about 100 meters above the ground. But if there are only one or two people around they come down low, only a few feet above the ground."
Dumrong said he tried to record the reddish colored spheres with his video camera Sunday night but they were flying too high.
He said hundreds of people reported seeing the objects, which moved silently and varied from as bright as a spotlight to as dim as a small lantern.
"This has been happening for almost a month now," he said. "Girls from a factory were the first ones to see them, usually about 7 or 8 in the evening. Sometimes they followed the girls, floating down within a few feet of the ground before disappearing."
He said news of the strange objects attracted a large crowd of more than 1,000 people from surrounding areas Monday night but the fireballs failed to appear.
"So far no one can figure out what they are," Dumrong said. "They may be spirits or something else, but I can confirm that they are not any kind of fraud or hoax."
Original file name: .CNI - Fireballs Over Thailand
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