09/30/2020 -- Explosion in Lhasa, Tibet

September 30th, 2020

BEIJING (Reuters) — Numerous reports are flooding in from the Tibet Autonomous Region where a massive explosion ripped through the historic city of Lhasa.

Director Hua Chunying of the Foreign Ministry Information Department spoke to reporters today indicating that an explosion of indeterminate origin occurred in the city of Lhasa at 8:23 pm local time. Chunying declined any further comment on the matter and has indicated that appropriate emergency responses are in place, but that the Chinese government does not believe this to be a hostile act and is investigating the possibility of the explosion being the result of improper chemical storage in an aging chemical treatment facility.

The United States' Space Weather Institute released satellite footage of Lhasa from the night of the explosion showing an unusual spiral-shaped aurora forming over the city around 7:00 pm local time. The aurora expanded to cover much of the Lhasa region over the next hour, then appears to have darkened at the center. Further satellite imagery shows a massive glow in the city of Lhasa around the time of the explosion and the region is now shrouded by smoke from fires racing through the city outskirts.

Social media was briefly inundated with footage of the aurora in Lhasa on the night of the explosion. Amateur astronomers likewise recorded the incident and Chinese State Media has been working tirelessly to take down any recordings of the aurora. The atmospheric phenomenon appears identical to the aurora that briefly appeared over the American city of Detroit in late February and earlier over the New York City Safe Zone on Christmas in 2018. A spokesperson for the Space Weather Institute, Dr. Noreen Cross, indicated that the aurora seen over Lhasa was not a part of a known atmospheric phenomenon but appears to be related to unusual "hot spots" of electromagnetic activity in Earth's upper atmosphere since 2018.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Information has declined all requests for further information.

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