UFOs and Bodily Harm
By Scott Corrales

As a society, late 20th century America is obsessed with "accentuating the positive," even in situations where the silver lining is often impossible to assign. In matters dealing with the paranormal, this manifests itself in an urge to downplay incidents in which human eyewitnesses or percipients received some kind of bodily harm as a result of their fleeting brush with the unknown.
Apologists for these unknown forces are quick to indicate that there can be no malice behind these attacks, and that the force behind them is no more guilty than the pane of glass that brought a hapless bird's flight to an abrupt halt. One can only derive cold comfort from such thoughts.
Feature articles like Charles Bowen's "UFO Beams that Cure or Kill" (SAGA UFO, 1974), or book-length treatments on the subject, such as Bob Pratt's excellent UFO Danger Zone (1996) or Jacques Vallee's Confrontations (1990), have successfully illustrated the deleterious effects of UFO encounters. We would be fortunate indeed if the vast corpus of literature on this manifestation of the phenomenon could be circumscribed to these works. Yet, there is much more.
The Consul's Report
The National UFO Reporting Center recently posted a letter that appeared in Scientific American magazine a little over a century ago-on December 18, 1886, to be exact. The letter, dated November 17, 2000 purports to be from one Walter Cowgill of the U.S. Consulate in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and discusses a curious phenomenon that took place on October 24, 1886 on a proverbially dark and stormy night. A family of nine, sleeping in a shanty not far from Maracaibo itself, was awakened by "a loud humming noise and a vivid, dazzling light" that turned night into day.
This could be a description of lightning or even its more sophisticated cousin, ball lightning. But what happened next is what catapults this case into the high-strangeness ballpark. Cowgill's letter goes on to indicate that in a belief that the Second Coming was at hand, the frightened Venezuelans prostrated themselves in prayer. "But their devotions," he writes, "were almost immediately interrupted by violent vomiting, and extensive swellings commenced to appear in the upper parts of their bodies, this being particularly noticeable about the face and lips."
The members of the family were stricken with large black facial blotches, which were painless until the skin peeled off and the blotches turned to sores. The letter reports that hair loss was also in evidence, "upon the side which happened to be underneath where the phenomenon occurred." Amazingly, the dwelling itself was unaffected, and all doors and windows were bolstered. No traces of lightning strikes could be observed on the structure, and the injured occupants allegedly stated that no sound beyond the curious humming had accompanied the bright flash of light. The trees surrounding the dwelling showed no signs of damage until the ninth day, when they began to wither "simultaneously with the development of sores upon the bodies of the occupants of the house."
The letter closes on a less than upbeat note. The consular agent indicates that he visited the members of the injured family in one of the city's hospitals and that "their appearance was truly horrible." It is likely that their ultimate fate will forever remain a mystery. While UFO advocates will protest that there exists no clear-cut evidence of a connection with the phenomenon in this case, we shall "fast-forward" sixty years from 1886 to 1946, when an equally frightening event occurred in Brazil.
The Aratariguam Incident
At dusk on March 5, 1946, Joao Prestes and his friend Salvador dos Santos returned to their neighborhood after a day's fishing. Prestes said goodbye to his companion after reaching his home and proceeded to search the windowsill for the key to the door. He became momentarily aware of "something" that was hovering over his house; whatever it was, it fired a potent beam of light directly at his face, prompting him to cover his face with his hands in an instinctive effort to ward off the luminous blow. The "force" of the strange burst of cohered light toppled Prestes to his knees.
But the light vanished as suddenly as it appeared. The terrified victim ran toward the nearby home of his sister. As they listened to Joao's story, his sister and the members of her household noticed that Prestes flesh was gradually acquiring the aspect of "meat that has been allowed to boil for a while." Curiously enough, this only occurred in the lower parts of his arms and legs, the exposed parts of his body that had not been covered by clothing. The true horror commenced when the onlookers realized that Joao Prestes was melting before their very eyes.
Skin slid off the fisherman's bones; an ear slid down to the man's shoulder before hitting the ground; lips, nose and eyelids fell off as the screams of his terrified relatives split the air. Adding to the hellish situation was the fact that Prestes insisted he felt no pain whatsoever even as his body disintegrated before his eyes. His final request before dying was a drink of water.
This mind-bending story was originally featured in Italy's Il Giornale del Misteri, accompanied by a truly frightening artists' depiction of Prestes' last moments. Jacques Vallee adds the detail that Dr. Felipe Santos Carrion, a researcher who managed to interview Prestes' friend, dos Santos, before the man's death, has ascertained that the weather was fair and that there was no threat of a thunderstorm.
Perhaps it is in poor taste to dwell on these unfortunate cases, or even preferable to leave undisturbed the memory of individuals who died in such appalling circumstances. Hundreds of people die each year from lightning strikes, whether on the golf courses of the industrialized world or in open fields of the Third World, and not a single case of "death by lightning" has involved such gruesome results, which are strongly reminiscent of the fate of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet nuclear energy was unknown in 1886, and had only been barely harnessed in 1946. What could have been the unknown source of these strange deaths? Knowing what we now know, could UFOs be the answer?
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Today, we are accustomed to reading cases in which UFO eyewitnesses complain of a number of symptoms brought about by microwave radiation issuing from the mysterious objects in question. Rashes, burns, eczema, temporary blindness and loss of reflexes are only some of the side effects of involvement with the UFO phenomenon. On January 7, 1970, Aarno Heinonen and Esko Viljo, two Finnish skiers from the town of Heinola in southern Finland, were thrust into prominence by their encounter with a strange artifact and its even stranger occupants.
With fresh snow on the ground and clear skies on that early day in January, Heinonen and Viljo went skiing deep in a wooded area as part of their training for an upcoming competition. At a given point, both men became aware of an unbearably bright luminous object, which deviated from its trajectory in the heavens and turned around and headed for the forest clearing where the men were resting. The light, which on closer inspection was enshrouded in a reddish-grey cloud or mist, emitted a loud buzzing sound. When it descended to a height of fifteen meters (50 ft.), the skiers were able to see a solid, disc-shaped craft at the core of the swirling mist.
The object descended within a few feet of the ground, close enough for one of the men to tap it with a ski pole, and the mist dispersed. Heinonen reportedly felt something grab him and push him away from a luminous tube that projected from the bottom of the craft. Both men were startled to see a strange being, standing no taller than three feet and holding a black box in its claw-like hands. The humans later described the entity as wearing tall black boots, a jumpsuit made of an unknown but lightweight material, and a curiously hooked nose. The creature seemed to give off a strange radiance.
So stunned were the humans that they did not react when the entity pointed the black device at Heinonen and fired a beam of energy at him, followed by the same reddish-grey mist that had encircled the unknown craft. Heinonen now found himself enveloped in sparks of red, violet and green, which did not produce any kind of painful sensations.
The odd mist became so dense that Viljo was unable to see the non-human entity or his friend, even though the latter was only a few steps away. Suddenly, the lights contracted and were sucked back into the device. The reddish mist lifted and dispersed. There was no sign of the entity or of the disc-shaped vehicle that had loomed over them. The encounter with the creature had lasted, by their estimates, no more than 20 seconds.
There would be a price to pay following this exposure to unknown forces: Heinonen was afflicted with a sensation of lassitude that prompted him to fall into the snow, requiring his companion to carry/drag him back to his home a mile away. Viljo's face was swollen and congested. Heinonen urinated a dark liquid resembling "coffee poured onto the snow."
In spite of the fact that local physician Paul Kajanoja thought at first that the men were suffering from a particularly severe bout of flu, he was concerned by their abnormally low blood pressure, vacant stares and the lack of coherence of speech. While he felt that he was looking at two potential cases of radiation poisoning, Kajanoja lacked a Geiger counter with which to ascertain the possibility.
After the ordeal, Heinonen's weakness became chronic and he was unable to return to work. He developed constant nightmares and grew afraid of his friend Esko Viljo, identifying him with the occupant of the unknown vehicle. A physicist from the University of Helsinki remarked that Heinonen's symptoms matched those of an over-exposure to X-rays.
Later that same year, Swedish researcher K. Gosta Rehn investigated another Scandinavian case involving a similar situation. On October 25, 1970, Norwegian technician Reidar Salvesson, 35, was driving home to Kristiansland from a business trip to Stavanger when he was blinded by an amazingly powerful source of light more powerful than a "welding arc," according to his description. Bringing his car to a stop on the darkened highway, Salvesson was able to make out an enormous ball of light heading toward his vehicle, eventually hovering directly over him. The driver got out of the vehicle after the unknown object had extinguished its luminescence to reveal a saucer-shaped flying object measuring some 20 meters across. "It met the description of what I'd read about flying saucers," remarked the technician, adding that the object was perfectly silent and was tilted at a slight angle.
Dutiful to the nature of his profession, the technician quickly pulled a notepad from his pocket and began making a quick sketch of the object, calculating its distance from the ground, its width and other measurements. After fifty seconds by his count, Salvesson felt a strong blow against his back, as if the object "had cast an electric wave at him." Falling to the ground, he then heard the sound of his car's windshield shattering to bits. Immediately after that, the unknown object took off heavenward at breakneck speed, disappearing from view.
After the event, Salvesson indicated that he felt a numbness of the tongue and face, as if a dentist had applied a particularly strong anesthetic. His eyesight had been negatively affected for almost a week following the event, making it almost impossible to drive during daylight hours and causing severe ocular irritation.
These incidents are by no means specific to Scandinavia. Since the 1950s, people worldwide have been affected by anomalous phenomena often directly related to UFOs. Many times, the harm is circumscribed to physical effects such as those enumerated above, stemming from close proximity to the anomaly or through the intervention of a beam weapon of some sort. The hapless victims of these microwave or other unknown radiations do not always make a complete recovery.
Such was the case involving Brazilian policeman Altamiro Martins, who had a shocking encounter with the unknown in September 1970. At 9:30 p.m., Martins was patrolling the grounds surrounding Usina do Funil in the municipality of Itaitatia when a number of luminous phenomenaóa few hundred feet from his positionódrew his attention. Before the policeman had a chance to investigate, one of the objects fired a silvery beam of light that left Martins blinded. Screaming in terror, Martins called for the nearest of his fellow officers on patrol and began firing his sidearm wildly into the air. The first person to respond was a truck driver, who reported seeing nothing unusual in the sky. The victim was spread out on the ground, repeating the story of the sudden appearance of the lights.
Martins was taken to the Red Cross Hospital in Rio de Janeiro where the attending physicians discovered a new problem: the policeman's legs were now paralyzed. Clinicians and psychiatrists alike were unable to find the underlying causes of the blindness and the sudden paralysis, particularly since the eyes appeared undamaged as a result of the flash of light.
A UFO Steamroller
On other occasions, the damage is not merely circumscribed to frail human bodies, but also includes the surrounding physical infrastructure. The following case was first made known to the world through the pages of Britain's Flying Saucer Review and caused quite a sensation at the time. Although mention is seldom made of it in our Roswell-minded times, it nonetheless represents the most vivid example of UFO "vandalism.ä
At 11:30 a.m., August 7, 1970, the Ethiopian villagers of Saladare were distracted by a sound issuing from a nearby forest. Many suspected at first that the source of the noise was a low-flying airplane or helicopter. The noise's intensity grew steadily worse, from loud to unbearable. Astonishment quickly turned to terror when people saw a luminous red ball÷described by some as being "shaped like a tree trunkä and by others as a "ball followed by a tailä÷sweep through the village and reduce everything in its path to rubble: trees were torn from the ground, grass was charred, and the asphalt on nearby highway melted into tar as the fiery object rolled along.
Eyewitnesses reported that the object traveled toward a hillside, remained stationary, and then turned around once more, retracing its way parallel with the initial swath of destruction. The supernatural abomination destroyed more homes and vanished the same way it had first appeared. In total, over forty buildings were destroyed and nine villagers were either wounded or slain. Dr. J.A. Hynek, who featured this nightmarish account in his book The Edge of Reality (Regnery, 1975), noted: "This is one of the few documented cases where harm has been caused by something we must regard as a UFO. It was certainly flying, it was obviously an object, and it certainly was unidentified.ä
Death by Saucer?
The possibility of death by UFO activity, whether deliberate or accidental, is anathema in most discussions of the subject: contactees believe that the "kind space brothersä are incapable of hurting anyone and ET Hypothesis proponents scoff at the thought of advanced spaceships crossing the interstellar abyss to kill innocent humans. However, there exists a considerable body of information on precisely such events on a global basis.
Otherwise, how can we explain the strange death of Arcesio Bermudez following a UFO close encounter on July 4, 1969? Thirteen people, some of them members of a prominent Colombian family, were witnesses to the event, which occurred in a ranch in the municipality of Anoilaima, 50 kilometers distant from Bogot. As the family pursued its activities for the evening, they were surprised to see a small light appear in the distance, reminiscent "of a balloon lightä (sic). The light grew brighter as it drew nearer, eventually flooding the ranch house with blinding light. The object eventually landed close to the house and extinguished its light. 
Arcesio Bermudez was the first of the family members to approach the object, armed with nothing more than a heavy-duty flashlight. Pointing the electric torch at the object, Arcesio reportedly shouted: "Hey, there's a Martian inside!,ä after which the vehicle turned on its lights, rose into the air, and vanished in the general direction of Bogot. Arcesio took ill that very same evening and died three days later. Dr. Csar Esmeral would later indicate that his patient had slipped into a coma and was in an odd "hypothermic condition.ä Shortly before dying, Arcesio would tell his relatives that the unknown device contained a single occupant standing one meter tall. 
Another case occurred in Peru in late 1968 and involved the death of a child in the Amazonian community of Tingo Maria (northeastern Peru). According to the information presented in a local tabloid, Ultima Hora, three children playing in a rainforest clearing witnessed the descent of an unknown object. The eldest of the group, a twelve year-old, ran ahead of his companions to reach the curious device before falling to the ground short of his goal. The two remaining children reportedly saw a pair of small creatures who gestured at them to remove their fallen companion's body. The boys obeyed, and found that their friend's body was nearly charred. According to the tabloid article, they were able to return the boy to his family, who promptly took him to a medical dispensary. The boy died of the burns shortly later. Military authorities tried in vain to find a rational explanation to the event.
While this shocking case could easily be dismissed as tabloid sensationalism, there are other UFO burn cases that stand up to scrutiny and have been investigated by competent agencies, such as the 1968 incident involving Adela Casalvieri, 53, a nurse at a psychiatric hospital in Mendoza, Argentina, whose case was studied by that country's Aeronautical Intelligence Service, the Forensic Police and the National Commission on Atomic Energy.
According to Casalvieri, she was in the women's ward of the hospital attending to her professional duties when she suddenly noticed an intense red light accompanied by a persistent buzzing sound. Thinking at first that it came from a space heater in a patient's room, she was startled to find that a sizeable red object had in fact landed in the hospital's courtyard. Walking out to the courtyard, the nurse found herself suddenly unable to move. 
"The light focused on me ... I felt a burning sensation and the inability to move. The light was red and very powerful, and I could neither scream nor move.ä Casalvieri would later describe the object as "shaped like a mushroom and giving off flashes of blue and red light.ä When she was finally able to break free from its thrall, she ran back into the building and called for help. Casalvieri was treated for the burns and released, and the only evidence that remained of the encounter was a lead-colored scorch mark on the hospital courtyard, which remained visible for two days before disappearing.
The preceding cases will more than likely be dismissed as doom-and-gloom retellings of events that happened long ago and far away. The Brazilian policeman's blindness and paralysis will be dismissed as psychosomatic, the Argentinean nurse's burns as mere exposure to "harmful UVs,ä the destruction of the Ethiopian village as hearsay, and the alleged death of the Peruvian boy as a hoax or worse. For indeed, how can entities higher up the evolutionary scale share the sad human penchant for murder and mayhem? 
And precisely there lies the crux of the matter: despite its dazzling maneuvers and light shows, despite the undisputed power of its technological or paratechnological devices, the force behind the UFO phenomenon (whether extraterrestrial, ultraterrestrial, infraterrestrial, etc.) presents itself as indiscriminate, lacking regard for the well being of other sentient beings, regardless of their intellectual capacity.
© 2001 by Scott Corrales, a writer and translator of UFO and paranormal subjects in Latin America and Spain. His work has appeared in magazines in the U.S., U.K., Japan, Spain and Italy. Corrales is also the author of Chupacabras and Other Mysteries (Greenleaf, 1997), Flashpoint: High Strangeness in Puerto Rico (Amarna, 1998) and Forbidden Mexico (1999). He lives in Pennsylvania, where he edits Inexplicata: The Journal of Hispanic Ufology. He may be reached at <>
Scott Corrales is the Author of Chupacabras and Other Mysteries, available in book section.
A veteran bilingual researcher, the author answers the continuing public outcry for more information on the "goat suckerä that has been mutilating animals and terrorizing the residents of Puerto Rico and other countries around the Gulf of Mexico, and about UFO encounters, government cover-ups, shape shifters, Bigfoot, and other mysteries. This is the only book we know of on this too-long-neglected important area of research. Photo section, notes, bibliography, index. Chapters include: Into the Realm of Beasts; The Witnesses; Stalking the Beast; The Infiltrators; The 1996 Encounters; Chuapcabrs Universalis; In the Thrall of of Other Improbably Creatures; The UFO Presence in Latin America; more. 257 pages. 6x9 paperback. Illustrated. Index. $19.95
This article is the finall portion of the 3-part series from the latest issue of PARANOIA MAGAZINE - the Conspiracy Reader. It is reprinted with permission of the author Scott Corrales and PARANOIA MAGAZINE. It begins a 3-part series. thanks them for the use of this story.


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