A mysterious large, metal ball has washed up on a beach in Japan, baffling the authorities and residents.
The object’s appearance on the coastline of Hamamatsu city prompted the police to scramble the bomb squad, but close examination showed there was no immediate threat.
X-ray technology revealed the ball to be hollow as fears it was a stray mine were quickly dismissed.
The ball has a diameter of about 1.5 metres and washed up on Enshu beach, according to local media.
A member of the public reported the object, which led to explosives experts in protective clothing carrying out their assessment while a large surrounding area was closed off.
Thought to be iron, the ball has a rusty appearance and there are two raised handles on the surface, suggesting it is normally hooked to something.
The Japanese armed forces and coastguard officials are examining images of the ball.
Speculation on social media suggested the ball had come from space or asked whether it was another type of surveillance balloon.
It comes after the US shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon on 4 February off the South Carolina coast.
US defence officials believed the balloon had been launched as part of an operation to spy on sensitive military sites.
China insisted the balloon was for meteorological and other scientific purposes and had been blown off its course.
Three further objects were then shot down over North America.
Later, US officials said they appeared to be unrelated to “intelligence collection against the United States of any kind”.