Guwahati: Flight operations at Bir Tikendrajit International Airport in Imphal, Manipur, were halted for several hours and the Indian Air Force scrambled two Rafale fighter jets after, what was defined by officials as an unidentified flying object (UFO) was seen hovering above the airport on Sunday.
Informing that after an UFO was sighted within Imphal-controlled airspace, two flights were diverted and three departing flights were delayed, airport director Chipemmi Keishing said that flight operations commenced after receipt of clearance from the competent authority.
Security sources said that the UFO was sighted by a pilot of an Indigo flight that was about to depart around 2.20 pm. All flight operations were immediately suspended but resumed around 6 pm. The UFO was said to have been visible till 4 pm.
Security sources said that after receiving inputs about the presence of an UFO near the Imphal airport, the IAF launched one Rafale from Hashimara but it could not see anything.
Pointing out that the first aircraft returned to its base and another was deployed towards the area to double check but it could also not ascertain anything on the location and nearby areas, defence sources said that the second aircraft also returned without registering any presence of any object in the air.
The Eastern Command of the Indian Air Force also said that it activated its Air Defence response mechanism to track the UFO.
Imphal West Superintendent of Police Ksh Shivakanta Singh also told reporters that the object hovered for several hours, baffling everyone. "We have no idea what the object was and how big it was. It hovered in the sky for hours and then disappeared," he said.
Security sources said that the diverted flights included an IndiGo flight from Kolkata which was initially instructed 'to hold overhead'. It was diverted to Guwahati after 25 minutes.
The delayed flights left Imphal airport after receiving clearance after around three hours.