Latin America & Caribbean

Brazilian fisherman finds satellite launch debris in Amazon

Space debris in Brazil's Amazon region Image copyright AFP
Image caption The metal panel was floating on the Uriandeua river, in Brazil's northern Para state

A fisherman in Brazil's Amazon region has found a large piece of debris from a European space launch.

The man said he found the metal object floating on a remote river in the municipality of Salinopolis.

The debris has been confirmed as coming from a satellite launched from the Kourou base, in neighbouring French Guiana, last July.

The piece bears the logo of the UK Space Agency and Arianespace - the European satellite company.

A spokeswoman for the UK Space Agency, Julia Short, confirmed that the debris was from the launch of Europe's largest telecommunications satellite last year.

"It is the launch vehicle payload shroud from the Alphasat launch last year. It probably landed in the Atlantic and then floated inland,"

Alphasat, described as Europe's most sophisticated telecommunications satellite, was launched from the Kourou base on 25 July.

Brazilian authorities in northern Para state said they would contact the UK Space Agency and ask them to collect the object.

According to local reports, it took more than 10 people to retrieve the panel from the riverbank.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The UK Space Agency logo was clearly visible on the panel
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Residents, policemen and rescue workers took selfies next to the unusual find
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The fisherman who found the debris said the authorities initially did not believe him

"It is big, the size of a car," local resident Gilson dos Santos told O Globo.

Residents have been told to report immediately any symptoms of illness, but rescue teams do not believe the wreckage is radioactive.

The local fisherman who came across the unusual catch - 73-year-old Manuel Alves dos Santos - said the authorities initially did not believe him.

"It hit my fishing line and I pushed to the bank of the river to see what it was. It is the first time I see something like that," he told O Liberal newspaper.

The object was found on Saturday night, but according to residents the authorities failed to respond to their initial calls.

Recovery teams only arrived in the area after the finding was reported in the media.

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