By Liam Higgins
A little before three in the afternoon on December 9, 1995, a screaming came across the sky that was heard by almost all the residents of Cuenca. In the Cajas Mountains, just west of city, the shrill sound was described as “una mujer en el terror,” or a woman in terror, by a farmer near Cajas National Park.
The screaming was followed by a thunderous explosion, the concussion of which set off car and property alarms in Cuenca and broke windows in the Cajas.
Although scientists said the event was almost certainly the result of a meteorite strike, they were unable to provide proof until recently. That was when a group of tour guides discovered an impact crater near La Toreadora lagoon, 25 miles west of Cuenca. Greek geologist Theofilos Toulkeridis, who has studied the case for years, confirmed that the crater was created by a meteorite.
“Although we had found a number of meteorite fragments since 1995, until now we did not know the site of impact,” Toulkeridis said. “With the discovery we can reconstruct the events that happened 23 years ago and collect important scientific data. These sites are very rare and are important for the study or rock metamorphism. This will be of great interest to geologists and astro scientists.”
Based on preliminary research, Toulkeridis says the meterorite was on a north-to-south trajectory, and struck the ground at a 35% angle.
With the commitment of the tour guides who discovered the crater, as well as park officials, Toulkeridis says the location of the crater will not be made public. “For now, we need to preserve the site for scientific study,” he said, adding that it may be opened to the public in the future.
The crater discovery helps dispel recurrent stories of extraterrestrial visits in the Cajas at the time of the meteorite impact.
Several Cajas residents claimed they had seen lights in the night sky and heard high-pitched whistling noises for several days preceding and following the 1995 event.
One man claimed to have seen a bright saucer-like object near a lake on his farm. The reports prompted a visit in 1996 by the crew of a U.S. television series about UFOs and their interviews and scenery from the Cajas Mountains were screened on several occasions in the late 1990s.
The stories were also chronicled in several Youtube videos. One, “Ovni del Cajas,” has had more than 500,000 views.