Big late-night boom shakes homes in south Wales

Image caption Sightings of meteorite, such as this one over Asia, are not uncommon

A loud late-night bang and flash of light has alarmed people across parts of south Wales and western England.

Some reported hearing a large airborne "explosion" that shook their homes some time after 23:00 BST on Monday.

The cause remains unclear but there was speculation on social media that it could have been a meteor burning up.

Chris Morgan, from Monmouth, said he heard a "massive bang," and his window and computer shook.

Gwent Police said they received three calls from people reporting a loud bang in the Cwmbran area late on Monday evening.

Mr Morgan said it was not like the sonic boom of an aircraft, nor thunder.

"It sounded like a big explosion," he said. "It shook my window and my computer screen vibrated - the whole unit vibrated.

"I've got friends in Ross who heard it, lots in Monmouth, Newport, Blackwood. I wondered if it was a meteor or something."

Sally Bramald, from Staunton, Gloucestershire, said it was a mystery when she heard the noise at about 23:30 BST while lying in bed.

Former BBC website science editor Dr David Whitehouse was contacted by BBC Radio Five Live after similar reports of a loud bang and a fiery light in the sky over parts of England and Ireland.

'Heat trail'

He said: "As far as one can tell, it seems to have come in over the Atlantic, over Northern Ireland, across north west England and headed south east over Wales".

Dr Whitehouse said the most likely prospect of images of any meteor would come from it being captured on CCTV cameras.

A few people from the UK reported what they had seen on the website Lunar Meteorite Hunters.

Nathan Jones, of St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, said he saw an object with a heat trail behind an orange and white light but lost sight of it after about eight seconds as it moved past houses.

He said: "Never seen something so amazing in my life. Looked like it was skimming through the atmosphere due to the curved path it was taking."

Former Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik, who has campaigned for better tracking of near-Earth objects, said said he was persuaded it was a rock around 3m-5m (10ft-15ft) wide that had burnt up high in the atmosphere but close enough to be heard.

'Amber warning'

Mr Opik said he was confident the reports he had received via social media were of an object travelling at up to 60,000mph in the high atmosphere.

He said: "Most burn up harmlessly in the very high atmosphere. Larger objects make it low enough to cause a sonic boom. It's almost certainly one of those.

"What people actually heard was the sonic boom caused by the rock before it exploded.

"People don't need to be worried about his particular object. If you know about it, then it didn't kill you.

"This should be regarded as an amber warning for the human race. If we refuse to invest in tracking these objects, they will find us."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites