Residents of northeastern Australia have reported seeing a flaming object plummeting to Earth, police said on Friday, adding that the incident remains a mystery as no evidence of a crash has been found.
Queensland state police said they received several reports from the northern city of Townsville on Thursday evening about a burning object falling from the sky, possibly hitting the ground near Ross River Dam.
“[It was reported as] something about the size of a small plane travelling at a very high speed with a reddish-green flame coming out of the back or it,” a police spokesman told reporters.
“It was travelling at a very high velocity.”
Townsville resident Kim Vega told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) she thinks she saw the moment of impact, describing it as “like an explosion but without a sound”.
It would have been “like an atomic bomb effect” when it crashed, she added, with all the trees and the skies lit up.
Fellow Townsville resident Terry Robinson agreed the unknown object was large, telling the ABC: “This thing hit like a bomb – it was huge.
“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 said.
Police said there were no aircraft unaccounted for, nor had other aircraft reported seeing a bright falling object, leading to speculation it could have been a meteorite or some sort of space junk.
“At this stage there is no confirmation of anything,” the police spokesman said. “Nothing’s been found.”
Owen Bennedick, from Queensland’s privately-run Wappa Falls Observatory, said he thought the object was most likely to be a satellite or part of one falling to Earth and efforts would be made to find it.
He said the object would likely have caused a colossal thumping noise when it hit the ground and, given the full moon on Thursday, would have been seen by a lot of people.
“I think we will find that it will be a piece of a satellite,” he told reporters, adding that because it was viewed over a large area and was travelling slower than a meteorite it was probably a man-made object.
“This thing burned for a long time, a lot of people saw it, and indications are it was a satellite,” he said.