MYSTERY flying objects seen hovering in the skies above South Tyneside may have been identified.
The Gazette recently reported how two readers spotted mysterious flying lights during the afternoon and evening of Saturday, August 30.
Laurence Younger, of Tanfield Gardens in Harton, South Shields, saw bright lights in an arc shape as he passed through Whitburn at about 9.30pm.
And Cindy Jonas, from Northumber-land, spotted a strange white light whizzing across South Tyneside's skies at about 4pm while on the quayside at North Shields during a family day out.
However, since our story appeared, several other readers have been in touch with what they believe could be the explanation for the mysterious lights.
One man handed the Gazette a video of wedding guests in Whitburn sending up mini hot-air balloons into the sky.
After the 100 mini balloons were ignited, they floated off into the night.
He said: "The balloons were launched to celebrate the party and commemorate absent friends.
"There was no intention of freaking out the locals or giving rise to a spectacle that could be misconstrued as anything extra-terrestrial.
"But I must admit that as they soared slowly upwards, they seemed to interact with each other and bob around as they gained altitude, before slowly drifting away."
However, Val Halliday, of Washington, believes a party she attended that night could offer an alternative explanation for the mysterious spectacle.
She said: "My friend was hosting a farewell party for her daughter, who was emigrating to Australia.
"To wish her luck, a few giant Chinese lanterns were sent off into the night. They were very bright and looked unusual.
"If the wind was blowing in the right direction, it could have easily been them."
Despite those two theories, no one has come forward to offer an explanation as to what the object floating around during the daytime could be.
Mike Hallowell, the Gazette's paranormal researcher, is keen for people to keep an open mind.
He said: "It's common for well-meaning witnesses to come forward and suggest they might have been responsible for a sighting, perhaps by releasing balloons at a party, for instance, but sometimes these explanations don't solve the enigma.
"I've noticed a steady increase in sightings over Tyneside in the last year, and I'm becoming increasingly convinced that something decidedly odd is going on in our skies.
"The suggestion that the UFO mystery is dead and buried looks to have been rather premature."