Villagers throughout the island of Kadavu claim to have seen an object resembling an aircraft fall from the sky, trailing smoke and fire, at about 6pm Friday.
The position of the crash is on the Auckland/Suva air route, but Air Pacific and Air New Zealand say they have no knowledge of the incident. No operator has reported a plane missing. Kadavu has a population of about 10,000 people and there are plenty of witnesses, many of whom report that the plunging plane (if it was a plane) produced a loud, reverberating explosion when it hit ground (or sea) accompanied by an earth tremor.
The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) says police in Kadavu have deployed a team to investigate the reports by people from various villages on the island. The airport has confirmed that the last local flight was at noon Friday – far too early to coincide with the sightings.
Police are baffled. They are investigating whether the explosions and flashes might have been flares from a boat in distress – though that hardly squares with the sightings.
“We are working with the relevant authorities trying to find out what really happened,” a police spokesperson said.
Police have found no debris so far and unless some turns up will call off the search. Theories about the sighting include one advanced by a local marine biologist, who suggests the object may have been a meteorite. If so, the reports of an earth tremor suggest it may have hit land rather than sea. The biologist, Austin Bowden-Kerby, said that if it was a meteorite, it would be the first recorded to have landed in Fiji.
Kadavu, which lies 100km directly south of Suva, is Fiji’s fourth largest island. It’s the biggest island in the Kadavu Group, a volcanic archipelago consisting of Kadavu, Ono, Galoa and a number of smaller islands in the Great Astrolabe Reef, famed as a top spot for scuba diving.
Written by Peter Needham