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3 Feb 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: The loud explosion heard by many in Sabah on Sunday was due to a phenomenon of a fireball entering the earth’s airspace.

This was confirmed by the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) in a report released on its website recently under event code 632-2021.

National Planetarium deputy director (Observation) Zamri Shah Mastor said the event was recorded at 11.04 am on Sunday (Jan 31).

He said they received five reports, two from Sabah and three from Brunei.

He added that the position of the fireball, when it occurred, was in Papar, Sabah and the Muara district in Brunei, near the South China Sea.

“It has been confirmed by the IMO. I am confident that the video, shot in Sabah, confirmed that the event was actually a fireball phenomenon. It is like a meteor but way bigger.

“Meteors are more delicate, but the fireball is bigger and can be seen during the day as well. It can be as bright as a half-moon or a full moon,” he told Bernama TV when contacted.

According to him, through reports received by the IMO, a total of 57 such incidents had been recorded since last month.

The latest, in a district in Bali, Indonesia, occurred last month.

“The phenomenon is called a fireball. It is a rock from outer space rubbing against the earth’s atmosphere and the heat causes it to burn. It either explodes in the air or falls to the earth’s surface.

“We think some of the fragments entered the earth’s airspace while some were scorched in the galaxy,” he said.

Asked about the probability of damage caused by a fireball, he said, it depends on the size that enters the earth’s airspace.

If it is too big, it will produce a sonic boom or a loud explosion, similar to what occurred in Sabah.

However, he said, until now there have been no reports of damage or impact from the incident.

Residents around Beaufort, Sipitang, Kuala Penyu and Labuan were shaken by the sound of a loud explosion and a five to six-second tremor at about 11 am last Sunday. -Bernama


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