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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Meteorite shower sparks sea alarm
A meteorite shower is suspected to have caused a spate of emergency calls off the coast of north-east England.

Coastguards were alerted to what appeared to be red flares being fired into the sky off Saltscar Buoy, near Redcar, Teesside, on Wednesday night.

A lifeboat was launched but the search was called off after a large number of similar calls came in along the coast, spanning from Tyneside to Humberside.

The RNLI said it believed the calls were sparked by a "natural phenomenon."

'False alarms'

Dave Cocks, of Redcar lifeboat station, said: "Everyone involved was happy that this was a natural phenomenon and not a real distress signal.

"The sightings along the coast led the coastguard to conclude that the calls they had received were false alarms with the best of intentions and the lifeboat was stood down.

"The situation was further complicated by the fact that there was helicopter activity in the area at exactly the same time and the aircraft's lights may also have been mistaken for distress flares."

Humber Coastguard received the emergency calls at 2045 BST.

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