Ministry of Defence says 'big bang' heard over England was sonic boom


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The Independent Online

The Ministry of Defence tonight confirmed that a loud bang heard over parts of England was in fact a sonic boom.

Police in Oxfordshire had been investigating reports of a loud bang in the area.

The noise prompted a flurry of speculation as to its cause on the social networking site Twitter, with some initially suggesting it was a gas explosion.

Residents in the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset and Wiltshire reported hearing what sounded like an explosion at just after 6pm.

The fire and rescue services said they had sent two vehicles to investigate the noise but had been unable to find any cause.

The British Geological Survey had also said they were investigating.

However, The Ministry of Defence said this evening that the noise was in fact a sonic boom from RAF aircraft, that had been authorised to go supersonic over land.

The MoD later said that the two RAF Typhoons had taken off following an emergency call, transmitted on the wrong frequency, from a helicopter.

The MoD stressed tonight that at no point was there any threat to civilians, and that the Typhoon aircraft, from the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) based in Lincolnshire, were scrambled after a helicopter pilot accidentally emitted an emergency signal.

The Typhoons were already on their way to the helicopter by the time the pilot realised his mistake.

The noise was reportedly heard in Rugby, Oxford, Coventry, Swindon and Bath.