Teen party sparks UFO alert

An 18th birthday party sparked a series of apparent UFO sightings across Wearside, it emerged today.

Shocked residents told last month how they watched as eerie glowing orbs appeared over Hetton and Easington Lane.

As reported in the Echo, more than a dozen witnesses were left stunned after spotting nine "fireballs" in the night sky.

Mum Sharon Johnston captured the orange lights on her mobile phone camera.

The 33-year-old, from Hetton, said they appeared to be travelling in formation and were in the air for about 10 minutes before suddenly vanishing from sight.However, the British UFO Research Association later revealed it was likely the lights were Chinese sky lanterns, which are often released into the air at public events and celebrations.

Today it emerged that 30 lanterns were lit at Elemore Golf Club, Hetton, where Yasmin Renwick was marking her 18th birthday.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw the article in the paper," said the travel agent. "It was a complete shock.

"The lanterns were a surprise on the night and it was surprise the next day when I heard how many people had seen them.

"It was a great birthday party, though, and I'll never forget it."

Often used as an alternative to fireworks displays, the lanterns – made of paper and bamboo – are known to rise as high as 1,500metres and can travel miles.

Yasmin's gran, Yvonne, also from Hetton, helped organise the surprise party with the birthday girl's mum Zoe.

She said: "I was at a wedding about a year ago where I saw about 150 lanterns released into the air. It was so dramatic.

"They went down well at the party, but the day after my phone didn't stop ringing. Apparently, people were rushing into their gardens with video cameras.

"But we all had a laugh about it afterwards.

"It is something to remember Yasmin's birthday by."