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UFOs in the daily Press:

Several witnesses have reported a strange aerial phenomenon in Sri Lanka. The phenomenon has been reported by the country's main TV news channel several times. Scientists and the air force are investigating. No conclusion has been drawn yet. But science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke has the answer: extra-terrestrials and UFOs do not exist, so they should not be studied; instead, people should spend more time fighting asteroids.

This article was published in the newspaper Times Of India, India, on June 17, 2002.

Monday, June 17, 2002.

UFO in Lanka? Clarke says no way

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is abuzz over aliens after some villagers and a journalist spotted an unidentified flying object (UFO) in the north central town of Polonnaruwa, but visionary space scientist Sir Arthur C Clarke (1) has played down the local X File episode (2).

The unusually glimmering flying object was first spotted by a farmer in Polonnaruwa, but its presence was also confirmed by several others in the area including a television journalist, local media reports said on Sunday.

The object had been seen over Sri Lankan skies for nearly a week and eventually prompted the Sri Lankan Air Force to investigate the matter, the reports added.

Polonnaruwa is an ancient Sri Lankan capital and is a popular tourist attraction because it houses many rare historical ruins dating back to the first century AD.

A team of astrophysicists - led by Dr Chandana Jayaratne of the University of Colombo - has also started studying the Sri Lankan sky to determine what the object is.

But for the internationally renowned author of several books on this subject (3), Arthur Clarke, all the hype appears to be largely unwarranted.

"I wish I would one day be able to meet a visiting alien, but I don't for a moment agree that aliens are visiting the Earth in UFOs making secret appearance of contacting a handful of human beings," Clarke said in a statement.

"We need to discern enthralling science fiction from science fact," he added.

According to Clarke, despite several investigations by NASA and the US Air Force, no credible evidence has been found anywhere in the world of aliens visiting the earth.

Clarke also warned that people were spending far too much attention on investigating UFOs rather than studying NEOs or Near Earth Objects like asteroids and comets that could crash on earth and destroy life.

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