Loud boom and streaking fireball spook people in three US states

People in three southern US states spotted a sharp fireball streak coming down from the sky, introduced by a loud boom around 8am, which officials and scientists identified as a bright meteor on Thursday.

Seen in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi by more than 30 people, the shiny fireball appeared in the sky for a few seconds and was first spotted 54 miles (87km) above the Mississippi river near Alcorn, officials said.

Locals said they had heard loud booms in Claiborne County and surrounding areas, according to NASA.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency on Thursday said the noise was caused by the fireball.

“After multiple reports of a loud sound this morning across a portion of our state, MEMA has confirmed with NASA it was a fireball that caused the noise. No injuries or property damage have been reported. We are told the meteor ran parallel to the Mississippi River,” the disaster management body said on Twitter.

The fireball, at its peak, shone more than 10 times brighter than a full moon, Nasa said.

According to NASA, the disintegration of the fireball generated enough energy to create shockwaves that spread to the ground, producing the booms and vibrations felt by people in the area.

Bill Cooke, lead of Nasa’s Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama’s Huntsville said that this is “one of the nicer events seen” in the data of Geostationary Lightning Mappers.

“What struck me as unusual was how few eyewitness reports we had given the skies were so clear. More people heard it than saw it,” Mr Cooke said.

Scientists have called the object a “bolide” and said it moved southwest at a speed of 55,000 miles per hour (88,500km/hr) before destructing into pieces as it entered deeper into Earth’s atmosphere.

The bolide fragmented 34 miles above a swampy area north of the unincorporated Concordia Parish community of Minorca in Louisiana.

A witness from the Vicksburg Post who heard the loud boom in the sky said she looked up and spotted “an “orange fireball the size of a basketball, with a white tail behind it,” heading west toward the Mississippi River.

Officials at Claiborne County Emergency Management agency informed the locals that there was no involvement of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station.

“Citizens of Claiborne County, local officials are aware of the loud sound that was heard throughout the county,” the agency said in a Facebook post.

It added: “Grand Gulf Nuclear Station was not involved in this occurrence and the site is secure. … There is no threat to the county and no action is to be taken.”

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