Apr 08, 2015 I Paul Seaburn

Mysterious Smoke Ring Over Kazakhstan Has Residents Fuming

Hundreds of people in a small town in Kazakhstan saw a huge mysterious black smoke ring float over them for fifteen minutes before disappearing. A video was recorded and uploaded to the Internet. With evidence like that, you’d think an explanation or at least a government denial would be released quickly. Yet days later there’s no word on what the smoky apparition was and that has Kazakhs fuming.

According to witness Oleg Menshikov , the ring appeared over the small town of Shortandy.

It was like a black cloud. We saw it at around 4 pm on April 3. It dissipated like smoke, but it was completely odorless.


Physics professor Andrey Solodovnik from Northern Kazakhstan State University estimated the ring’s size at 100 meters in diameter and its altitude at anywhere from 200 meters to a kilometer.

With no official explanation for the ring, speculation ran from an unusual weather pattern to fireworks to exhaust from an alien spacecraft to a cloud of flying insects or bees to a volcanic plume (this actually does happen but there was no active volcano nearby) to a portal to hell (my favorite).

A similar large black smoke ring was reported over Warwickshire, England, in April of last year.


Many at that time pointed out that a truck at the annual Burning Man festival makes smoke rings. However, those dissipate quickly while the ones over Shortandy and Warwickshire held their shapes for many minutes. That characteristic probably rules out factory emissions and thermal microbursts (falling masses of warm air) which also break up quickly.


The most famous smoke ring UFO photographs were taken by a U.S. army private at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in September 1957. That ring was eventually attributed to a controlled explosion simulating an atomic bomb blast that Fort Belvoir was known to conduct. The blackness of the ring was said to have been caused by diesel fuel.

FortBelvoir 570x534
Photographs of a smoke ring UFO taken at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in 1957

Is Kazakhstan, which borders both Russia and China, simulating atomic blasts? There’s a conspiracy theory I don’t want to touch.

So what caused the ring over Shortandy? Fuming residents want some answers.

Paul Seaburn
Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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