UFO mystery solved - or is it?

TUESDAY 4PM: The talk of the town this week hasn't been Gordon Brown or the Big Freeze- it's been UFOs.

The Melton Times has been inundated with callers backing up last week's story about two terrified drinkers who saw an unidentified flying object silently glide over the Cherry Tree pub on Boxing Day.

This week we can exclusively reveal what Tony Baker and Steve Huckleby saw - or can we?

Rachel Wilson emailed to say: "I must say I had a good laugh as my husband had thought the same thing when he first saw what appeared to be UFOs flying over Melton throughout the Christmas and New Year period.

"After researching on the internet I can tell you they were in fact Chinese lanterns, which are lit and sent off with New Year wishes for a prosperous future, so the revellers can be assured we are definitely not being taken over by aliens!"

And Carole Skinner said: "Well, I think this was possibly a Chinese lantern. They are orange, travel miles and are, of course, completely silent."

Chinese lanterns are small paper balloons with a lit candle in the base to heat the air and float it away - as demonstrated by reporter Ben Truslove while on an assignment in Thailand last month.

But not everyone was convinced the orange glow, which was seen across the region, was caused by the lanterns.

Stuart McGhie, who lives in Tamar Road, said: "The one I saw seemed to be much too big and much too high to be a lantern. I was going out the door when my wife pointed it out - it was just like the description in the Melton Times, egg shaped without any flashing lights."

Steve Thompson said: "I too saw the object from my house on Thorpe Park. It was travelling at about the same speed as an airplane but was silent. This may have been due to the heavy mist that night. All I could see was best described as a fire ball.

"I was able watch it for about three or four minutes, until it vanished into the misty night. I have never witnessed anything similar before."

Kathleen Hatherley thinks she may have the answer. She wondered if the orange glow was actually a hot air balloon. She saw one at the time in question in the Shoby area as she travelled home from Grimston towards Asfordby.

Unfortunately this small picture was the only one we've seen. It was taken by Nicola Bird in Baldocks Lane on her mobile phone.

We have yet to track down the source of these mysterious lights - all we know for certain is that the truth is out there.

UFO? Reader Nicola Bird took the above photograph on Boxing Day. Right: Reporter Ben Truslove releases a lantern in Thailand