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  What people saw from the ground
Updated 01 February 2003, 20.59
Local residents in Texas look in disbelief at the space shuttle debris
People living in the area of north Texas have been talking about what they heard and saw.

Many remember hearing a very "big bang" shortly before the space shuttle Columbia was due to land at 9.16am (2.16pm British time) in Florida.

The space shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

John Ferolito of Carrolton, north of Dallas, told the BBC what he heard and saw.

The shuttle broke up on re-entry to Earth
The shuttle broke up on re-entry to Earth

"It was like a car hitting the house or an explosion. It shook that much.

"Ten minutes later I heard they had lost contact with the shuttle.

"I put the two facts together and called to say I had heard a boom.

"The boom I heard was the space shuttle breaking up but apparently the debris falling is being carried outside the Dallas area to a remote area east of here."

Terry Tawater, from Palestine, Texas, told BBC News Online that, at 8.01am, Texas time, his house began to rumble.

"The whole house was shaking and I immediately ran outside and the shuttle was flying extremely low.

"Almost as soon as I got outside it was gone and there were vapour trails filling the sky - it was unbelievable.

"We sometimes see the shuttle high in the sky late at night, but never anything like this.

"As soon as I got outside it was gone and there were vapour trails filling the sky - it was unbelievable."

Lieutenant Paul Peterson, of Nacogdoches Police, Dallas, heard the explosion over his police department.

Local residents in Texas describe hearing a 'big bang'
Local residents in Texas describe hearing a 'big bang'

"It lasted over 30-45 seconds. It blew the doors open on various business in the area.

"We thought it was a couple of jet fighters that sometimes train over this area doing low fly-overs.

"A minute later we got reports coming in of debris coming down.

"No-one has been injured. Fortunately it happened at a time when not many people were up and about."

Another witness, Gary Hunziker in Plano, described what he believed was the break up of the shuttle.

"I could see two bright objects flying off each side of it."

More InfoBORDER=0
Sci/TechWho were Columbia's crew?
Sci/TechRemembering the 1986 space disaster
Sci/TechFacts about space shuttles
Sci/TechSpace shuttle breaks up on re-entry
PicturesPictures: Space shuttle history
PicturesIn pix: Space shuttle disaster
Find OutFind out about space
Find OutTake a tour of the space station
ChatYour thoughts on the loss of the shuttle


Past StoriesBORDER=0
Endeavour touches down after 3-day delay


Web Links
Nasa Human Spaceflight
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