January 26, 2021, 02.28 AM

KOMPAS.com – Residents of Bali’s Buleleng regency were jolted out of their weekend idyll on Sunday, January 24, by a mysterious booming sound that occurred on the skies above them.

Eyewitnesses on land and at sea said they heard the sound at 10 in the morning. “I heard the boom very clearly when I was trawling for fish 10 kilometers out at sea. I thought an electric powerhouse exploded,” said fisherman Komang Wagiastra.

“The [booming] sound was so loud, I thought it was a bomb,” said I Gusti Ngurah Putra Sana of the village of Sukasada, while fellow Buleleng resident Gede Pariadnyana “thought a gas station blew up.”

Indonesian police in Buleleng investigating the phenomenon, which made the rounds of social media and WhatsApp groups, are just as baffled.

Also read: Indonesia Records an Increase in Earthquake Activity This Month

“We thought that the boom was caused by blasts at the Tamblang Reservoir project. But no explosions were carried out there,” said Buleleng Police Precinct spokesman Inspector First Class Gede Sumarjaya.

“A number of witnesses in Buleleng, such as [the villages] of Pengastulan and Dencarik, said they saw a glowing object in the sky to the northwest after they heard the boom.”

Illustration of a mysterious booming sound Illustration of a mysterious booming sound

The plot thickens

The Bali branch of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency [BMKG] investigating the booming phenomena uncovered more questions than answers.

“[The BMKG] found that signals around the Buleleng area were scrambled. The anomaly lasted for about 20 seconds and left shockwaves as high as 1.1 Richter scale” said Indira, an observer at the BMKG branch in Denpasar, Bali’s largest city.

“However, this does not indicate an earthquake. It was also undetected by other seismic [earthquake] sensors elsewhere, except for Singaraja, Buleleng’s largest city.”

BMKG Earthquake and Tsunami Mitigation head Daryono maintained the agency has yet to determined the cause of the phenomenon, following reports that the glow was of a meteor.

BMKGs Regional Earthquake Center in Denpasar, Bali detected a signal anomaly in Balis Buleleng District on Sunday, (24/1/2021)Kompas.com/ Imam Rosidin BMKGs Regional Earthquake Center in Denpasar, Bali detected a signal anomaly in Balis Buleleng District on Sunday, (24/1/2021)

Also read: Tornado Seen on Gajah Mungkur Dam in Indonesia's Central Java

“If eyewitnesses [in Bali] did see a meteor, then [the boom] might be a shockwave that showed up on BMKG’s earthquake sensors,” he asserted.

The head of Bali’s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency [BPBD] Made Rentin confirmed reports by locals that they heard a loud noise.

“The BPBD also determined that the booming sound indicated no explosions on land.” he noted. “There is a possibility that the blast happened out at sea.”

The sky is falling

Indonesia’s National Institute of Aeronautics and Space or LAPAN raised the possibility that the boom might be caused by something out of space. “The boom and the glow in the sky might be caused by a big meteor or asteroid,” said Lapan chief Thomas Djamaluddin.

“This incident is similar to a 2009 occurrence in Bone, South Sulawesi. [LAPAN] was able to determine that a 10-meter asteroid fell on Bone, a fact NASA researchers verified through ultrasound.”

Thomas added that the Bone incident left 1.9 Richter scale aftershocks as well as scrambled signals.

(Writer: Jawahir Gustav Rizal | Editors: Pythag Kurniati, Inggried Dwi Wedhaswary)




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