An alien invasion? The Rapture? The sky flashed an eerie blue over New York City on Thursday night and social media users feared the worst.
Extraterrestrial activity was a leading theory: “IM SORRY WHAT???? THE SKY JUST TURNED BLUE???? literally so confused I think aliens just tried to steal New York,” one user wrote on Twitter.
“Apparently aliens are landing in New York City right now bcs the sky’s blue,” wrote another.
“Why is the sky lit up bright blue in Queens New York City right now? Is it fireworks?” Louis Santoro, a New York City resident, wrote on Twitter.
One resident, Joe Calderone, told the New York Post: “Damn, I thought a UFO hit Con Ed.”
In this trying time, some saw the hand of God at work: “Don’t worry, New Yorkers. The blue light you saw in the sky was just the Rapture,” one tweet said.
Another Twitter user noted that people had been warned to change their ways: “What’s happening in the sky in New York? If it’s the rapture, I just wanna say I told y’all to quit it.”
Travellers at LaGuardia airport were treated to potential delays as well as a light show.
“Due to a power outage in Queens, there is partial flight operations @LGAairport. Many flights are departing, some are not,” the airport wrote on its Twitter account, later adding that power was back in “all terminals” and advising passengers to check with airlines for flight status information.
In the end, the explanation turned out to be somewhat more mundane than the end of times or invaders from outer space: a problem at a local power plant.
“The lights you have seen throughout the city appear to have been from a transformer explosion at a Con Ed facility in Queens. The fire is under control, will update as more info becomes available,” the New York Police Department tweeted.
Con Edison, the power company, tweeted that: “There was a brief electrical fire at our substation in Astoria which involved some electrical transformers and caused a transmission dip in the area. We’re currently investigating the cause of the incident.”
The blue flashes that briefly lit up the night sky in the Astoria area of Queens, New York, shortly after 9pm (0200 GMT) were caused by a power surge and electrical “arching” and sparked a transformer explosion and a small fire, said Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee.
“There was a boom and a bang and a flash of light,” said Jim Long, a spokesman for Fire Department New York.
“It’s all under control but we’re still getting calls from residents wondering what happened,” he said early yesterday.
“I thought it was a terrorist attack. Everything was flooded with smoke.
It looked like blue fire. It was so big it was like the whole sky turned blue,” Astoria resident Ziad Elnokrashy said. “I thought it was the end of the world.”
“I saw the light come and then everything looked blue,” said Catalina Romero, another Astoria resident. “All my neighbours went out. I knew something was wrong.
“Many people panicked It was like daylight. The lights went out for 10 minutes.”
The anti-climactic explanation was disappointing to some.
“I wish the blue sky in New York was aliens and not a power plant on fire,” one Twitter user wrote.
Con Edison’s McGee reassured residents after Internet speculation that aliens or the villain Thanos from the recent Avengers movie Infinity War had invaded.
“No, it wasn’t space aliens,” he said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a message on Twitter that Con Edison was evaluating the extent of power outages in the area.
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