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Chinese Mystery Device Falls from Sky in India

Any time you see “falls from sky” and “Chinese” in the same headline, you know it’s gonna be weird. Villagers in China’s western Sichuan Province narrowly avoided a fiery death earlier this month when a Long March-3B booster rocket fell back to Earth after a satellite launch, crashing in a spectacular explosion just a few hundred yards from residences. Hopefully, everyone everywhere will be just as lucky when China’s Tiangong-1 space station falls from the sky on a random location sometime in early 2018. Wait – that’s like now! Keep your eyes on the skies, folks.

While most of the station will burn up upon reentry, there’s a significant chance that some debris could reach the ground.

Case in point: a piece of mysterious debris fell in India’s northeastern Arunachal Pradesh state near India’s border with China this week, scaring residents of the remote mountainous village of Repari to death and arousing fears of a new war. Villagers discovered the laptop-sized device hanging from a tree on February 21st, and have described it as a “partially burnt white box, wrapped in a cloth-like material with Chinese writing on it” with wires connected to a white powdery substance (photos here). Local police are still investigating and attempting to determine the device’s purpose.

The Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh, which China refers to as "South Tibet."

The Lohit river in Arunachal Pradesh, which China refers to as “South Tibet.”

India and China are still engaged in a rather heated border dispute in Arunachal Pradesh, the site of the Sino-Indian war of 1962. China has been reportedly increasing its air power along the border recently, so it’s likely this mystery debris could be some type of surveillance equipment. However, given one of the labels on the device reads “Shanghai Chang Wang Atmospheric Science and Technology,” some authorities believe it might be remnants of a weather balloon or similar device.

Of course, we all know how much mystery sometimes surrounds fallen weather balloons. Is this merely another case of a Chinese technological mishap, or is something more sinister afoot? Could the Sino-Indian border dispute instigate the inevitable apocalyptic nuclear war we all like to pretend isn’t going to happen?