Imphal, Nov 20, 2023: Several flights were unexpectedly diverted and delayed on Sunday after Air Traffic Controllers spotted an unidentified flying object (UFO) near the runaway at Manipur’s Imphal International Airport, officials said.
The unknown object was seen hovering high above Impahl’s Bir Tekendrajit International Airport at around 2.30 pm.
“The UFO was visible from the terrace of ATC by ATS personnel, the public, local police, airline staff and CISF personnel- and was unidentified to all the viewers,” an AAI official was quoted by TOI as saying.
At least two IndiGo flights were diverted while three other flights were delayed for over three hours after the authorities immediately closed the “controlled airspace.”
One of the diverted flights was initially instructed “to hold overhead” and was diverted to Guwahati after 25 minutes.
“Due to the sighting of an unidentified flying object within Imphal controlled airspace, two flights have been diverted and three departing flights have been delayed. Flight operations commence after receipt of clearance from the competent authority,” a statement issued by Airport Director Chipemmi Keishing stated.
An official of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) said they received a message from the CISF at 2.30 pm, informing them that a UFO was found near the airport.
“The UFO was visible with bare eyes moving westwards of the airfield till 4 pm,” the official told PTI. Flight operations have resumed now.
The Indian Air Force Eastern Command at Shillong was informed of the development, the official said. Manipur is bordered by Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, besides sharing an international border with Myanmar to its east.
Manipur has been at the centre of violence since ethnic clashes first erupted in May. More than 180 people have been killed since then. The flashpoint of the crisis has been a move to give Meiteis Scheduled Tribe status, which has since been rolled back and an attempt to turf out tribals living in protected forest areas.
Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mainly in the hill districts.