Experts of the "Kosmopoisk" all-Russia scientific research association are now checking the recent reports on a bolide, which had allegedly dropped to the earth in Altai Territory on Monday, Vadim Chernobrov, leader of the expedition, which is now searching for the meteorite that struck the earth there in January, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

He said local people had notified the expedition members that a new celestial object had hit the earth on Wednesday evening.

"They said a bright celestial body flew from west to east over Klyuchevsky and Rodinsky districts at 22.23 local time (19.23 Moscow time). It is difficult to say whether the object struck the earth or not," Chernobrov said.

However, local people claim that they saw how the "celestial guest" had descended and dropped east of Rodinsky District, setting the forest on fire.

"History knows very few fires, caused by dropping celestial objects, which are quite unbelievable. However, Kosmopoisk experts were sent to check the reports of eyewitnesses and to see whether the celestial body had dropped to the earth or not," Chernobrov stated.

It is worth noting that the "Kosmopoisk" expedition had earlier discovered traces of a large meteorite, which had dropped to the earth in Altai Territory last January.

According to Chernobrov, the expedition is now next to Kayaushka village of Uglovsky District, at the supposed place where a small fragment of the meteorite had struck the Earth.

The search will later be shifted to the place where the main part of the meteorite had possibly dropped. Local people are bringing to expedition members various stones, which they believe to be splinters of celestial bodies.

"Several stones they brought are quite trustworthy," Chernobrov stated. He also said the expedition members had taken earth samples in several places and had discovered two traces of meteorite dust: one is typical for the main "body" of a meteorite, and the other is only a trace left by a smaller fragment.

Chernobrov noted that one of the samples contained so-called chondrules - rounded particles 0.6 millimetres in diameter, which are the principal structural elements of meteorites. "This testifies to the presence of a most classical chondrite-type meteorite," the expedition leader stated.

Chernobrov noted that the press reports, claiming that local residents had found the January meteorite, held no water. Moreover, fragments that had dropped to the earth more than three years ago were adduced to prove this news.

The 30-man expedition includes some local residents, who come to its camp for one or two days, chiefly on days-off or holidays. Specialists and enthusiasts from Tomsk, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, Kostroma, Moscow and Moscow region, as well as from the Belarus Republic and Thailand are helping the expedition.

"The search for the celestial guest in Altai Territory is a non-commercial venture and all the jobs are being done for our own money," Chernobrov stated.

He believes it would be expedient for hand-gliders to join the expedition. They could examine from the air the supposed area where the meteorite fell. The expedition will continue its work in Altai Territory "until the meteorite is found", Chernobrov declared.