Enormous fireball appears in Spanish sky

Shocked tourists say they felt the 'earth move'

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This is the moment a massive fireball described as "brighter than the moon" lit up a huge part of Spain, including the Costa del Sol.

Many people thought there had been an explosion or an earthquake of a small magnitude.

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Stunned tourists were among those who reported hearing "a noise like thunder" and "the earth moving" as the unusual phenomenon streaked across the sky last night.

The ball of fire flew over Andalusia just before 10.30pm and was created by a rock crashing through the Earth's atmosphere at more than 72,000 kilometres an hour.

"I was frightened," said one observer whilst another tweeted: "Never seen anything like it in my life!"

Many residents of towns such as Albolote or Peligros believed it was one of the earthquakes they are accustomed to feeling in the area.

Some reported their windows shaking and hearing a massive thud like a heavy stone had fallen down.

Images of the fireball were captured by five major astronomers, as well as the University of Huelva.

The asteroid, described by scientists as "huge", flew over the Costa del Sol, Granada, Almeria, Toledo, Seville and Jaen.

Experts believe part of the rock probably survived the high speed journey through space and has crashed as a meteorite in several pieces somewhere in Spain.

If debris is found, they say it will be of "enormous importance" for future studies.

"Numerous witnesses claim to have heard an explosion associated with this fireball, as well as to have felt a tremor similar to a slight earthquake," said the website meteoroides.net.

Weather sayings: True or false?

Weather sayings: True or false?