, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – A weather monitoring device deployed by the Meteorological Department caused panic on Wednesday when it landed on a farm in Kangemi, Nairobi.
Residents who had no idea what the object was, fled the neighbourhood and alerted the police.
"We were worried at first because we did not know what it was, we thought it was going to explode," a witness, Nancy Ng\’ethe, said.
It later turned out that the object weighing about 800 grammes and attached to four balloons was actually a radiosonde that is deployed by weather experts to measure various atmospheric parameters and transmits them to a fixed receiver.
Another farmer who was among those who approached the \’mysterious\’ object said he ran away when he discovered that it was producing some sound.
"It had balloons tied all over it but they burst immediately it landed on the ground. The sound it was making was scary, I could not stand there any longer," the witness said.
It took police officers from the Kabete police station and others from the Bomb Disposal Unit [BDU] three hours to arrive to the scene.
"We have assured residents to avoid panicking because it is a gadget from the Meteorological Department; there is no cause for alarm," one BDU officer said.
An expert from the Meteorological department who visited the scene told journalists the gadget was dispatched from their Dagoretti headquarters to measure the atmosphere, wind speed and its direction.
He said the gadget was deployed at about 11am and could land anywhere after its mission.
"Whenever it is dispatched, it keeps sending back signals of its recordings at various intervals, and once it is through it falls to the ground. It cannot harm anyone because it is very light," the official said.
The radiosonde usually operates at a radio frequency of 403 MHz or 1680 MHz and both types may be adjusted slightly higher or lower as required.