The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) released a statement clarifying that the “phenomenon is highly unlikely to be related to the Long March 7A and the Long March 3B rockets.”
“PhilSA would like to clarify that the phenomenon is highly unlikely to be related to the Long March 7A and the Long March 3B rockets. The Long March 7A rocket was launched on Monday, 09 January, while the sighting and supposed explosion happened on the evening of 07 January,” the statement read.
It also explained that expected unburned debris from the Long March 3B rocket, which was launched into orbit on December 29 has already fallen on the drop zone area near Palawan.
“Unburned debris such as the payload fairing and rocket boosters are designed to separate from the rocket and fall back to Earth minutes after a launch before the rocket enters outer space,” it said.
“The reported sighting and explosion are also unlikely to be related to any orbital debris re-entry. Based on available predictions and tracks of space objects returning from space, no orbital debris re-entered the atmosphere near the Philippines around the reported time of the sighting and supposed explosion.
PhilSA further said based on available information it gathered, what residents saw could have been a phenomenon caused by a meteoroid that entered earth’s atmosphere.
Small meteoroids (usually a few centimeters across) completely disintegrate in the atmosphere. Larger meteoroids, on the other hand, will survive the atmosphere and eventually hit the ground and produce a loud booming sound.
Recovered pieces of these meteoroids are called meteorites. Similar phenomena that could simulate bright flashes of light and produce explosion sounds include fireworks and thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, Western Command (WESCOM) still has no findings on the mysterious explosion that residents of Bataraza and Rizal towns heard last Saturday night.
Two days after residents reported hearing and feeling an explosion and tremors, Capt. Reynaldo Aragones of WESCOM stated that combined operatives from them, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (MDRRMOs) of the two towns have found no trace of the cause of the explosion.
“Ayon sa pag-iimbestiga at pagtanung-tanong ng mga tropa doon malapit sa lugar na pinagsususpetsahan nila na [kung saan] bumagsak [at] sumabog, hindi pa matukoy ang lumilipad na bagay. Sa taas [sa kaulapan] pa lang sumabog at lumiwanag na, na hanggang sa lupa ay ramdam nila ang yanig ng pagsabog, hindi nila narinig ang pagbagsak sa [bundok] at lupa,” Aragones said in a text message to the media.
Residents spotted a mysterious object on Saturday night, prompting a continuous search on land and sea for any possible clues or identification.
They expressed fear after hearing what they described as an extremely loud explosion.
“Katuwang natin ang Coast Guard sa pag-scour sa karagatan at gayon din ang ating mga kasamahang mangingisda ay tumulong din,” he said.
Others speculated that it may have been a debris from a Chinese space rocket that was launched from Xichang, Sichuan Province, on December 29, 2022.