Jan 11, 1998
Editor: Joseph Trainor
On Thursday, January 8, 1998, at about 1:30 a.m., Spanish police raided an apartment house in Barrio de la Salud, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and arrested 32 members of a local UFO group.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven Islas Canarias (Canary Islands), owned by Spain and located in the Atlantic Ocean just west of Africa.
A few hours earlier, Spanish police arrested the group's founder, Dr. Heide Fittkau-Garthe, 57, a psychologist from Germany who settled on Tenerife back in 1985.
According to Antonio Lopez Ojeda of Spain's Ministry of the Interior, Dr. Fittkau-Garthe was arrested "on charges of attempting to induce suicide and was being held at a Tenerife police station."
"Mr. Lopez Ojeda said the police believed the sect was an offshoot of the Order of the Solar Temple, whose followers have carried out mass suicides in Canada, France and Switzerland. He said the police were still investigating." (See the New York Times for January 9, 1998, "Suicide Sect Leader Held On Canary Islands," page A-8)
The group had two names for themselves, Centro Sagrado de Isis (Sacred Center of Isis) and Orden del Santuario Solar (Order of the Solar Shrine), plus a headquarters in Santa Cruz, the largest city on Tenerife.
Members arrested included 14 men, 13 women and five children between the ages of 12 and 6. The prisoners are being held incommunicado.
"Police spokesman Juan Antonio Perez said" Dr. Fittkau-Garthe "had 'brainwashed' her disciples, and they would need to be 'deprogrammed.'"
"'A chemical substance was found at the house and it seems the group members were going to use it to poison themselves,' Perez said."
"'The minds of the 32 victims have been programmed; they've been brainwashed,' Perez said, 'They have to be deprogrammed before they can cooperate with police.'"
(Editor's Comment: Yes, readers, that's what the man said. Don't take my word for it. Look it up. See the Boston, Mass. Globe for January 10, 1998, "Police Find Poison at Home of Suspected Cult Leader," page A-9.)
At a news conference in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on January 9, police spokesmen said the group was planning a trip to Pico de Teide, an extinct volcano 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Santa Cruz. At the summit, they reportedly planned to "rendezous with the space brothers."
"The group, which may be linked to the infamous Solar Temple cult or a Hindu apocalyptic sect, had planned to kill themselves at the top of Tenerife's Teide volcano, from where they believed their souls would be picked up by a spaceship, officials said." (Boston, Mass. Globe, January 10, 1998)
According to Heliodoro Rodriguez, subdelegate for Santa Cruz de Tenerife, police noticed an influx of German and Belgian citizens in recent weeks, all members of Centro Sagrado de Isis. Dr. Heide Fittkau-Garthe "was considered a kind of prophet."
Rodriguez praised "the collaborative effort by Interpol and the German police" who reportedly spied on "the cult and its activities in Spain."
Rodriguez also declined to discuss whether or not the Ministry of the Interior had planted informers in the group during the past few months.
The official shocked Spanish TV viewers when he mentioned that the Ministry had compiled a list of "200,000 members of dangerous sects" in Spain. (Muchas gracias a Pedro P. Canto para esos informes espanol.)
(Editor's Comment: It looks like Heide Fittkau-Garthe and her followers are getting the John Ford treatment. Has NATO declared war on UFO enthusiasts?)
On Wednesday, December 31, 1997, at 8:52 a.m., Lynn S. was driving in rush-hour traffic in Rockland, Massachusetts (population 15,695), a suburb on Route 139 approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Boston.
As she neared Reed's Pond, on Market Street in Rockland, she spotted "a cigar-shaped craft that hovered for a minute and 45 seconds above the waters of Reed's Pond before it plunged in and exploded. I saw the object come across the sky, pulsating a blue light from the top with two strong flashing lights on each side."
"Traffic slowed, but no one seemed to care enough to get out and see what the object was," she reported. "As I approached the traffic lights, people were pointing back at the pond. But without the (traffic) light working, drivers were beginning to swear, cut people off and no one was paying any attention to the object."
"Upon driving home and finding I had no electricity, I called the electric company but only got a recording. I began calling other residents of the town. They all said they had no electricity after they 'heard the planes go over.'"
At 9:15 a.m., Lynn drove back to Reed's Pond. "To my amazement, a black ball hovered in the sky above it, as big as a silver dollar, but nothing was astir in the pond. I noticed dead ducks and seagulls floating on the surface."
The UFO zipped away seconds later. "For the record, I never heard any planes." (Email Interview)
On Friday, January 2, 1998, at 6 p.m., Jason B. and Brandon C. were walking along the railroad tracks in their hometown of Missouri Valley, Iowa (population 2,888) when they spotted a strange light in the sky.
"While walking down the tracks, we observed an extremely bright light off towards Council Bluffs (i.e. to the south--J.T.). At first we thought it was a falling star," Jason and Brandon reported. "We stopped to watch it for about 20 seconds."
"It was directly above us and circled the grain elevator," Jason said. "Then it sped off very fast, following the railroad tracks towards the east."
Missouri Valley is on Iowa Highway 30 approximately 130 miles (208 kilometers) west of Des Moines. (Many thanks to Tim Hagemeister of NACOMM for this report.)
A UFO was sighted in San Benito, Texas (population 20,125) during the evening of Tuesday, December 23, 1997.
A married couple and their two sons, ages 16 and 12, were traveling southeast on Highway 77. The father, R.C., and his family were enjoying the radio and had just passed the small local airport.
Suddenly, at precisely 6:59 p.m., they saw a light speeding across the sky. The UFO was a small, soundless ball of white light. It was 35 degrees above the horizon and was traveling south in a straight line at jet speed.
The family had it in view for 15 seconds during which time the car radio went dead. The UFO dropped behind a group of trees. When their car cleared the trees, the UFO was gone. (Direct submission from a Texas resident.)
On Saturday, January 3, 1998, at 3 a.m., airline pilot Gary Sanders was standing on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, a seaside resort on the Bahia de Banderas 580 kilometers (348 miles) west of Mexico City.
"I am an airline pilot with over 30 years' flying experience, including 24 years with the USAF and Air National Guard," he reported. "While standing on the beach and looking at the stars with another airline pilot, I observed a reddish-colored light, which I initially thought was a meteorite, move rapidly from east to west."
"As I pointed out the light to my companion, the object suddenly changed direction by about 135 degrees of turn and very sharply. The movement defied any laws of flight and physics that I am aware of. The light made another rapid change of course to a westerly heading, then disappeared out of sight."
"I was so startled that I immediately confirmed with my companion what I had just seen. I have never seen any flying object perform this type of maneuver before." (Many thanks to Henny van der Pluijm and Errol Bruce-Knapp for this report.)
UFO sightings in Australia's Victoria state rang in the southern hemisphere's New Year.
On December 31, 1997, a "bright orange illumination" was seen "traveling from the southeast to the northwest" over Pakenham, Narre Warren and the Dandenong mountain range in Victoria.
Ten minutes past midnight, on January 1, 1998, "a high-altitude illumination," possibly an object in orbit reflecting sunlight, was observed for three minutes over Victoria, heading north.
At 12:17 a.m., witnesses reported seeing "a blue- white illumination 30 degrees to the northeast" over Victoria's state forest, moving across the northern sky.
From 12:20 to 12:25 a.m., witnesses reported seeing "ten meteorites crossing the sky, traveling from the east over central Victoria."
Two days later, on January 3, 1998, residents of Bendigo, Vic., 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest of Melbourne, at approximately 2:45 p.m., "reported spotting a hamburger-shaped UFO. The object appeared to be silver in colour." After hovering for a few seconds, the UFO "shot straight up into the upper atmosphere until out of sight."
That evening, at 10:30 p.m., people in Newcastle, New South Wales (N.S.W.), a port city 110 miles (176 kilometers) north of Sydney, "reported sighting a huge blue-green illumination passing overhead."
On Sunday, January 4, 1998, at midnight, ten residents of Keybrough, Vic., a suburb of Melbourne, "reported sighting two bright orange fireball illuminations" flying from south to north over Melbourne's eastern suburbs. "The illuminations appeared to travel faster than a small aeroplane and following each other for some time before coming into a vertical arrangement (i.e. one on top of the other), then reduced speed and came to a dead stop. The higher illumination appeared to drop a bright light to the other. Then they both moved off to the north until out of sight." (Many thanks to Ross Dowe of Australia's National 24-Hour UFO Hotline for these reports.)
On Saturday, January 3, 1998, Emil D. was driving on an autobahn (highway) in Germany's Bayerische Alpen (Bavarian Alps) near Traunstein, a small city 110 kilometers (66 miles) east of Munchen (Munich).
Suddenly, he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw "a gigantic flying disc" coming up behind him. The UFO was described as "bright silver with rotating lights along the rim."
The UFO pursued Emil's car for 8 kilometers (5 miles) before rising quickly in altitude and zipping away over the southern horizon.
The huge daylight disc was also seen in Muhldorf, 60 kilometers (36 miles) north of Traunstein, and across the border near Sankt Johan am Tirol, Austria. (See the Sueddeutsche Zeitung for January 7, 1998. Danke schoen a Josef Schedel.)
Strange earth tremors have rocked Scotland's Strathclyde region twice in the past couple of weeks.
In mid-December, a strong tremor shook the multi-million-pound Centre One building in Stewartfield. "More than 30 Inland Revenue (the UK's tax agency--J.T.) workers were evacuated... Desks rocked, computer screens flickered and windows rattled as employees were whisked to a safety zone. The tremor triggered emergency readings at several seismological stations in Scotland."
During the early hours of Monday, December 22, 1997, a second round of tremors struck the East Kilbride area, 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Glasgow.
"Frightened residents in Greenhills, Westwood and Calderglen have reported another round of tremors...A number of people called the (East Kilbride) News to say they had been all shook up by a quake in the early morning hours..."
"'It was like a low overhead thunder directly above the house,' said Aileen Wilson, 39, from Gasgoyne, Westwood. She said that she "feared for her seven- month-old baby daughter when the tremor started just before 7 a.m."
The tremor "'was followed by a series of noises like fireworks going off,' she explained, 'It sounded like a gas explosion coming from the Westwood playing fields. I jumped out of bed and lifted my baby Lynsay. Everything in the room was shaking. It lasted quite a long time.'"
"Thomas Stewart, 39, from Carnoustie Drive, Greenhills, heard deafening whirring noises when his windows shivered violently around 7 s.m."
"'It sounded like a rocket,' said the Ministry of Defence worker. 'I'm puzzled as to what exactly is going on and would like an answer.'"
"Glenn Ford of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh said, 'This was NOT an earthquake and went on for too long for a sonic boom. It is very strange, but we are getting readings on our instruments, but the actual cause remains a mystery so far." (See the East Kilbride News for December 30, 1997, "Mystery Tremors," page 3. Many thanks to Dean Ladds of Flying Saucer Review for forwarding this news article.)
On Tuesday, December 23, 1997, hundreds of Chinese workers in an industrial area on the outskirts of Canton spotted a UFO in the sky.
The UFO was described as "an oblong oval with an array of windows. The windows had a bright corona of light around them. A periodic ray of light burst from the craft's underside at several intervals."
The UFO alternately hovered and flew slowly over the factories and houses for several minutes, then flew away at an extremely high speed.
Canton, the largest city in Guangdong province, is 1,296 kilometers (810 miles) south of Beijing.
(See the Italian newspaper Il Stampa for December 27, 1997. Grazie a Edoardo Russo di CISU per questo rapporto.)
One of the strangest UFO phenomena on record occurred at the farm of Sara Elizabeth Lampe and her husband near Gardnerville, Nevada, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Carson City, the state capital.
On a cold January morning in 1949, Mrs. Lampe wrote, following a heavy snowfall, she glanced out her parlor window and saw something strange.
"Gradually my eyes focused upon a pale gray stain, irregulaly shaped and no bigger than my two hands. It rested on the smooth crest (of snow)... about three rods from the house and in line with the window. Almost at once this fuzzy gray shadow that was not a shadow bloomed into a disc of clear white light approximately three feet in diameter. It lay there for fully two minutes. Then suddenly contracting into a brilliant, orange-tinted stream five or six inches wide, flowed swiftly over the snow toward my window and, to all appearances, exploded soundlessly against the stone foundation of the intervening front porch."
"Several tongues of scintillating red-and-blue flame spurted a few inches above the two-and-a-half foot high wainscotting of the porch. That was all. When daylight came, we searched conscientiously but found no signs, marks or tracks of any kind that might help to explain this phenomenon."
(See THE CASE FOR THE UFO by Morris K. Jessup, Citadel Press, New York, N.Y., 1955, page 168)
For a detailed roster of recent UFO sightings in France and elsewhere in western Europe, be sure to check out the Banque OVNI website. Franck Marie and his team do an excellent job of listing every UFO sighted over there. Drop in at this URL: http://www.chez.com/banqueovni/index.htm
Celebrate the new year by visiting our parent site, UFOINFO, which is chock-full of photos, art and feature stories. You'll find us at this address: http://www.ufoinfo.com/
To access back issues of UFO ROUNDUP, visit our webpage at http://www.ufoinfo.com/roundup/
Let's all welcome our new readers from Germany, Italy and Peru. Between the Tenerife case and last week's rash of UFO sightings, the year 1998 is off to a wild start. Join us next Sunday for more saucer news from "the paper that goes home--UFO ROUNDUP."
UFO ROUNDUP: Copyright 1998 by Masinaigan Productions, all rights reserved. Readers may post news items from UFO ROUNDUP on their websites or in newsgroups provided that they credit the newsletter and its editor by name and list the date of issue in which the item first appeared.