|Subj:||Space shuttle's rare night landing causes alarm in Central America, Mexico|
|Date:||7/26/01 4:30:35 AM Pacific Daylight Time|
7/26/2001 4:05 am ET
Space shuttle's rare night landing causes alarm in Central
PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (AP) Emergency switchboards were
jammed by dozens of callers reporting strange lights in the
sky as the space shuttle Atlantis re-entered the atmosphere
before landing in Cape Canaveral, Fla., police said.
It was only the 18th space shuttle touchdown in darkness in
20 years. Infrared cameras showed the incoming spaceship
Wednesday as a ghostly white blur. Many people called in to
report the sound of an explosion.
"It caused bursts of lights and a boom that alarmed people,"
said Capt. Mario Velez, head of military intelligence at the
Guatemalan Navy base in Puerto Barrios. "They could have
given us some advance notice."
In neighboring El Salvador, officials also received multiple
reports of an explosion. A search turned up nothing unusual.
The search was much wider in Mexico's southern state of
There, near the state capital of Chetumal, dozens of
soldiers and sailors were sent out in motor boats to
isolated stretches of mangrove swamps to search for the
wreckage of "an aircraft" that residents said had burst into
flames and crashed.
Search teams found nothing.