‘Meteor’ in Gilgit-Baltistan puzzles residents, causes panic

MAMOSA Report — A suspected meteor lit up the skies above Pakistan’s mountainous north late on Wednesday, officials said, with panicked residents reporting a mysterious light whizzing past and the sound of multiple, powerful blasts.

Bright light trails could be seen over G-B’s skies only for only a few seconds, but the sonic boom that followed some five seconds later was more widely heard, the Express Tribune reported.

The ‘blasts’ could be heard in areas such as Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer and Skardu at roughly 9:15 pm.

The incident occurred when citizens in the city of Gilgit and the surrounding districts saw the bright object racing through the night sky above the region’s remote, soaring mountains.

“I saw a light flash through the sky and then there were multiple blasts,” Ghizer district resident Javed Iqbal said.

“I felt as if something had hit the roof of my house. I rushed outside with my family members and saw everyone getting out of their homes. The blasts had shaken the whole valley,” he said.

His story was echoed by others, including Shabir Mir of Gilgit, who said he saw the object “disappear into the mountains”, followed seconds later by what sounded like more than one explosion. “I thought the object might have hit the mountain,” Mir said.

Social media was also flooded with reports of the incident, with some users posting unverified images they said were of the strange light.

Sibtain Ahmed, a senior administration official in Gilgit, on Thursday confirmed the object had been seen in all three areas, followed by the sound of loud explosions.

“According to our investigation, the flying object was a meteor flying low,” he said.

The apparent blasts were the sonic boom created as the meteor ripped through the sky faster than the speed of sound, he said.

“It did not hit the ground,” Ahmed said, claiming it had crossed Pakistan’s territory headed towards Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, which borders the Gilgit-Baltistan region to the north. Meteors are pieces of comet or asteroid from outer space that create a fireball as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere.

Those that survive the intense heat and friction and reach the surface without breaking up are known as meteorites, and are sought after by scientists for the information they can give about the early solar system.

It was not clear if the meteor crashed or broke up in the sky. The terrain between the city of Gilgit and the Wakhan Corridor is extremely remote and home to some of the highest mountains in the world.

There were no immediate reports of any meteor in Afghanistan.

The Gilgit Information Department released a statement saying that a large meteorite has passed over Gilgit and Ghizer.

Further, the statement said, the object was travelling very low and illuminated the surrounding areas in the process. “It broke the sound barrier, causing the ‘explosions’ heard in all villages from Gilgit to Shandur Top,” the statement read.

The Pakistan Army released no official statement on the incident, and authorities from Pakistan’s space agency, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), could not immediately comment, according to AFP.

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