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Shuttle re-entry spooks Mexico, Central America

SHARE Shuttle re-entry spooks Mexico, Central America

PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (AP) — Emergency switchboards were jammed by dozens of callers reporting strange lights in the sky as the space shuttle Atlantis re-entered the atmosphere before landing in Cape Canaveral, Fla., police said.

It was only the 18th space shuttle touchdown in darkness in 20 years. Infrared cameras showed the incoming spaceship Wednesday as a ghostly white blur. Many people called in to report the sound of an explosion.

"It caused bursts of lights and a boom that alarmed people," said Capt. Mario Velez, head of military intelligence at the Guatemalan Navy base in Puerto Barrios. "They could have given us some advance notice."

In El Salvador, officials also received multiple reports of an explosion. Searchers found nothing.

The search was much wider in Mexico's southern state of Quintana Roo. Dozens of soldiers and sailors went out in motor boats to isolated stretches of mangrove swamps to search for the wreckage of "an aircraft" that residents said had burst into flames and crashed.

Search teams found nothing.