A thunderous noise that panicked residents of Paris on Wednesday was caused by the sonic boom of a fighter jet breaking the sound barrier, police in the French capital said.
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The military said the jet was scrambled to go to the aid of another aircraft that had lost radio contact, and was authorised to travel at supersonic speed.
"A very loud noise was heard in Paris and in the Paris region. It was not an explosion, it was a fighter jet crossing the sound barrier," Paris police said on Twitter, urging people to stop calling emergency phone lines.
The noise, which was heard all over the city and neighbouring suburbs and shook windows, rattled Parisians already on edge after a knife attack outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo last week that the government has called an act of terror.
"A Rafale, carrying out an intervention to assist an aircraft that had lost contact, was authorised to break the sound barrier to reach the aircraft in difficulty," a French air force spokesman told AFP.
No detail was given on the type of aircraft or the nature of its difficulty. The spokesman said the fighter emitted its sonic boom over the east of Paris.
France's DGAC civil aviation authority played down the seriousness of the incident, saying that a plane made by Brazil's Embraer had suffered "a loss of radio frequency" while flying over the west of France but that contact was re-established.
It explained such situations take place "regularly," In 2019, the French air force counted 450 abnormal aviation situations, 210 of which needed intervention by fighter jets or helicopters.
'You never know these days'
Wednesday's incident led to confusion, with people taking to social media to ask about a noise that many noted came without any apparent smoke or other traces of damage.
It was clearly heard during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros, where star player Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland and his German opponent Dominik Koepfer paused in astonishment and apparent worry as the noise echoed around the stadium.
"Yeah, I heard it. I was a bit worried because I thought sRead More – Source