Blue sky lights up New York... and social media

An eerie blue light sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive, with many speculating about aliens or the end of days. It was actually an explosion at a power plant.
An eerie blue light sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive, with many speculating about aliens or the end of days. It was actually an explosion at a power plant.PHOTO: NYTTIMES

NEW YORK • 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. "I think aliens just tried to steal New York," one user wrote on Twitter.

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.

Many posted videos and photos of the night sky illuminated by a bright light.

In the end, the explanation turned out to be somewhat more mundane: 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 it was working with the fire department "to respond (to) a substation fire in Astoria". "The incident is under control", the fire department said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that the light was caused by an electrical surge at the substation.

Travellers at LaGuardia airport, which is in Queens, faced potential delays but were treated to a light show. "Due to a power failure at #LGA, please allow extra time when coming to the airport," the airport wrote on its Twitter account.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2018, with the headline 'Blue sky lights up New York... and social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe