Times of Eswatini

Still unidentifi­ed


THERE is an abundance of news from the past week, so let’s dive right in. First, the so- called UFOs that arrived over the United States shortly after the transit of a rogue weather balloon. Since Friday February 10, three genuinely unidentifi­ed flying objects ( UFOs) have been shot out of the sky over North America by the US Air Force.

Early reports widely quoted in internatio­nal media said that the first object was ‘ octagonal with strings attached’. Later, it was said to be ‘ cylindrica­l and silvery grey’ with a ‘ balloon- like’ appearance floating without ‘ any sort of propulsion’. The UFOs were taken out by F- 22 fighter planes of the North American Aerospace Defence Command ( NORAD), using sidewinder missiles.

The first came down near the coast of Alaska, the second a day later over the North West of Canada, and the third the day after that over Lake Huron between Canada and the US.

Later, national security council Spokespers­on John Kirby said that the first object was the size of a small car and was flying at about the same level as commercial planes. “These objects were not being maneuvered.

They did not appear to have any self propulsion. So the likely hypothesis is, they were being moved by the prevailing winds,” Kirby said.

Noting an additional significan­ce of the event, the Toronto Star said it “marked the first time the North American Aerospace Defence Command, NORAD for short, fired at an object over the continent.” Thus far, there is no word about recovery of the three objects or their true nature, although a White House spokespers­on said they were probably ‘ benign’.


The UFO story comes hot on the heels of the Chinese balloon story. Earlier this month, the US used a missile to take out a Chinese balloon that had invaded US airspace.

Chinese officials have since apologised, but they also claimed the balloon was a ‘ civilian’ weather balloon that went off course and didn’t have steering capabiliti­es.

To pile on to their sorry- not sorry, they added that the USA had also been invading their airspace with high- altitude balloons and had done so at least ten times in the past year alone.

Meanwhile, US officials claim the balloon was carrying equipment able to intercept and geolocate communicat­ions.

‘‘ It was clearly for intelligen­ce surveillan­ce and inconsiste­nt with the equipment on- board for weather balloons”, a senior state department official said on Thursday.

“It had multiple antennas to include an array likely capable of collecting and geolocatin­g communicat­ions.”

In other news, five people have been killed in a deadly storm in New Zealand. The new Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, said that Cyclone Gabrielle is the worst storm to hit the country this century. But closer to home, the excessive rain we have seen in the past two weeks is also breaking my local records.


I have recorded over 400mm in under two weeks. The last time we saw this amount of rain in such a short time period was during the cyclone in January 2021, and before that, the floods of the year 2000.

Lastly, we heard the sad news this week that one of the Thai boys who was stuck with his soccer teammates in a cave in 2018 has died. Duangphet Promthep was one of twelve members of the team, all aged 11 to 16, and their 25- year- old assistant coach, who were trapped in the flooded cave for 18 days by sudden rainfall. Promthep was reportedly found unconsciou­s in his room in the UK, where he had moved to in 2022 to take up a football scholarshi­p.

He allegedly suffered a head injury some time before he was found, and

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