The Sky Is Falling! Or Maybe It's Dangerous Space Debris Over Southeast Asia

"The explosion made our houses shake. Initially, we thought it was a battle."
Illustration of space junk orbiting around Earth.
Illustration of space junk orbiting around Earth.

Something highly unusual fell out of the sky recently over Southeast Asia, and it has yet to be definitively identified.

At 6 a.m. on Nov. 10, local residents of the mountain region of Myanmar reported hearing a loud bang before a 12-foot-long cylindrical object 5 feet in diameter crash-landed into a jade mining location in the village of Lone Khin, reports BBC News.

Local Defence Service officials suggested the mystery object bounced before coming to rest in the mud near the mine, as seen in the following video:

“We were all afraid of that explosion,” a Lone Khin villager, Daw Ma Kyi, told the Myanmar Times. “Initially, we thought it was a battle. The explosion made our houses shake. We saw the smoke from our village.”

Another resident, Ko Maung Myo, also told the Times he felt the ground vibrate. “Every local thought it was the explosion of heavy artillery,” he said. “I walked over to it and saw it was part of an engine. I found a diode and many copper wires at the tail of the body.”

But an engine from what and where?

The BBC added that “another piece of metal with Chinese writing on it tore through the roof of a nearby house at about the same time, but no injuries were reported.”

Initial reports suggested the mystery object may have something to do with a Chinese satellite launch that took place the day before the “UFO” (for lack of a better description) crashed in Lone Khin.

The Myanmar object isn’t the first incident in recent memory of something odd dropping out of the sky in this region of the world.

A satellite view of Myanmar and Vietnam where alleged space debris fell during 2016.
A satellite view of Myanmar and Vietnam where alleged space debris fell during 2016.

Earlier this year, in neighboring Vietnam, several “space balls” ― metallic orbs ranging in size from 9 ounces to 100 pounds ― streaked out of a clear sky before hitting the ground.

Investigators in that case determined the spheres were most likely “specialized compressed air tanks of some flying devices, perhaps a launch vehicle” that was produced in Russia.

Nevertheless, are earthlings in any danger of large, falling, metallic pieces of rocket engines or boosters or wings or balls?

According to Live Science:

Space debris is a regular part of satellite and rocket launches. Though the odds of any individual person getting struck by detritus is low, the odds that it hits one of the 7 billion people on Earth is surprisingly high. All told, there were at least 500,000 pieces of space junk, marble-size or larger, that are orbiting our planet in 2010, though most pieces are on the small size. Of that space junk, more than 20,000 pieces are larger than a softball. In 2012, Switzerland proposed building a kind of space janitor to clean up some of that debris.

It’s bad enough that we have to be concerned with meteors and approaching asteroids and relying on science to come up with ways Earth can avoid a devastating collision with such objects.

We’re now reminded of how dangerous it can be if any places or people are hit by things from outer space that we ourselves manufactured.