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Fireballs rain down on Spain

Hundreds of witnesses reported seeing flashes in the sky that authorities said may have been caused by a disintegrating space rock.
/ Source: Reuters

Hundreds of witnesses reported seeing fireballs cross the skies of northern Spain on Sunday in what authorities said may have been a case involving a disintegrating space rock, Spanish radio said.

The bright flashes were spotted at around 6 p.m. local time (noon ET) in a swath across the northern half of Spain, from the eastern city of Valencia to the northwestern pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela.

In some cases, objects were reported to have fallen to Earth.

“I left the house at around 12 minutes to 6. I heard a big explosion, like an earth tremor, and a white cloud of smoke formed around a nearby mountain which took a long time to disappear,” a local official from the northern region of Palencia told the radio.

Civil Guard officials told the radio an object had plunged from the skies in the northern province of Leon.

Spain’s civil aviation authority ruled out the possibility of a plane crash.

Jose Angel Docobo, director of the University of Santiago’s observatory, said the phenomenon could have been caused by a near-Earth asteroid that entered the atmosphere and broke up.