Three unidentified flying objects were seen falling from the sky and landing in villages early yesterday morning in Heilongjiang province, China News Service reported.
The round, metal objects crashed down in villages of two counties administered by Qiqihar, the news agency cited government officials as saying. Residents reported hearing a loud, piercing noise and seeing something like a “fireball” falling into a vegetable plot owned by one of the villagers.
Images taken by residents showed one of the objects, a metal ball covered with a jagged-edged layer weighing around 40 kilograms with a diameter of 70 centimeters, nestled into the soil. Two other “similar objects” were spotted hurtling from the sky and down to the ground in the neighboring Baiquan county, CRIEnglish relays.
Both places have been blocked off and investigation is underway.
Coincidentally (or is it?—we want to believe, damn it), AFP reported on the same day that several residents in northeastern Australia reported seeing a flaming object plummeting towards Earth, although no evidence of a crash site has yet been found.
“(It was reported as) something about the size of a small plane traveling at a very high speed with a reddish-green flame coming out of the back or it,” a police spokesman told AFP. “It was traveling at a very high velocity.”
One resident cited in the report described the supposed moment of impact as being “like an explosion but without a sound”. Another resident said that it hit “like a bomb”.
“I don’t know how big it was, but in the sky it looked like half a dozen jumbo jets falling out of the sky at the same time,” he was quoted as saying.
Owen Bennedick, a non-believer from a nearby, privately-run observatory, said the object was most likely part of a satellite, as it was seen over a large area and was traveling slower than a meteorite.
“This thing burned for a long time, a lot of people saw it, and indications are it was a satellite,” he said.
UPDATE: According to the Global Times, the objects are suspected to be debris from a $275 million Russian Proton-M rocket carrying an Express AM4R communications satellite that broke apart in the atmosphere outside of Kazakhstan on Friday.
Russia’s Federal Space Agency said that part of the rocket could be in a “non-intended orbit” and small pieces could have fallen down to Earth. Local authorities in Heilongjiang added that nothing dangerous has been found so far.
[Images via China News // SCMP]