A suspected light aircraft crash that sparked a police land and air search in south-west England is now thought to have been a meteor.
Members of the public called emergency services and reported that a glowing object was flying through the air, before it broke apart and plummeted downwards, prompting Devon and Cornwall police to conduct an aerial search with two aircraft early on Sunday morning.
The search was stood down soon after, and police confirmed no one had been injured.
“We are as satisfied as we can be that this has not been a light aircraft crash and no persons have been injured,” Insp John Shuttleworth said. “The expert opinion of trained search officers is that if there had been an aircraft crash, assets in the air would have seen some debris.
“There have also been a couple of reports from the Cardiff and Dorset areas of people watching meteor showers across the south-west.”
The force’s incident manager added: “In principle if it was an aircraft there would be something visible from the sky in terms of smoke and or fire.
“There is still no recorded flights in that area but that’s not to say a small aircraft wouldn’t need to register the flight; it’s possible one could be in the air with no formal authorisation. It could also be a meteorite.”
After receiving meteor sightings from across the west of the UK, the UK Meteor Network said one was believed to have travelled southwesterly over the English Channel.
“British UKMON and French BOAM meteor detection networks recorded a great fireball across the channel,” wrote Richard Bassom, an amateur observer from UKMON. “The event was a slow-moving bright meteor, captured by four cameras in the UK and one in France.”
Kerry Daniels, from the Isle of Wight, told local news site OnTheWight: “It seemed to go on for ages. It eventually broke off into two. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Never seen anything like that before. I wish more people had seen it. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen.”