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Colombian villagers thought they had found a UFO when a strange object fell from the sky but it turned out to be a high-tech balloon belonging to web giant Google.
Locals in the municipality of San Luis, in the central-western Colombian department of Tolima, called the police when they found the mangled device in a forest.
Video shows the futuristic-looking device crashed in the trees. A creased solar panel is visible.
But fears the object was of alien origin did not put people off taking a piece.
A police spokesman said: ‘The device fell from the sky on Sunday, around 2 pm. Villagers found it in the middle of the forest area and informed police.
‘We went to the place where the device was found. We should inform that villagers destroyed the balloon and that some items had already been stolen from the scene.’
Tolima police commander Jorge Eduardo Esguerra said that investigations revealed the balloon and its attendant technology were part of (Google) X’s Project Loon.
According to local media, the villagers thought that it was a UFO.
The scheme sends a series of balloons high into the atmosphere, skirting space. The equipment on board is intended to provide internet connections to far-flung rural communities.
Nobody was injured in the incident and what was left of the equipment was seized by authorities.
It was not clear whether they planned to return it to Google.
Since Project Loon’s inception in 2013, 12 of its balloons are known to have crashed down to Earth, with one of them hitting power lines in Washington, USA.
The balloon does not technically belong to Google, but to X (formerly Google X), and is part of Project Loom. X is a subsidy of Google’s parent company Alphabet, which was founded by Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2015 as a conglomerate to manage all the search giant’s assets.