Manipur on Sunday was put on alert after an unidentified flying object (UFO) was spotted near the capital Imphal city airport’s runway.
Times of India news outlet reported, citing a source that the unidentified aerial vehicle was spotted in the afternoon at 2 pm (local time) by a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel following which operations were halted and around 500 passengers of three outbound flights were stranded.
NDTV reported, citing sources, that the airport authorities closed the “controlled airspace” and stopped all flight operations immediately. Two flights were diverted, while three were delayed.
According to reports, the air traffic control (ATC) and people on the ground saw the drones around, after which the three flights — two Air India, and an IndiGo flight — were told not to take off. At the same time, two incoming flights were diverted.
“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 said.
Flights suspended for three hours
The three flights scheduled to depart from Imphal to Agartala, Guwahati and Kolkata remained suspended till 6 pm. Another flight from Delhi to Imphal was diverted to Kolkata while a flight from Guwahati to Imphal at 3.50 pm, which was also suspended, later departed at 6.50 pm.
“The UFO was visible with bare eyes moving westwards of the airfield till 4 pm,” an Air Traffic Control (ATC) official told PTI news agency.
The airspace was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and after it gave the nod, the airspace was restored for commercial flight operations after three hours.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the Indian Air Force has launched a joint probe to find out more about the incident.
The Indian Air Force Eastern Command in Shillong was informed of the development, the official said.