SONIC booms heard over parts of Essex yesterday were caused by an RAF jet which was scrambled after Heathrow-bound plane lost communication.

An Essex police spokesman initially said there were several reports of sonic booms around the county "caused by military aircraft engaged in routine operations".

The Ministry of Defence said a Typhoon jet from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire was launched when communication was lost with a Heathrow-bound plane.

It is understood the plane, travelling from the USA, landed without incident.

Air traffic controllers had become concerned but communication was re-established with the passenger airliner and there were no problems on board.

The Ministry of Defence said it was caused when the jets were responding to another aircraft which lost communication.

A spokesman said the jets soon established "everything was fine" with the aircraft.

Police said there were no reports of damage to homes or property.

A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shockwaves created when an object travels through the air and breaks the sound barrier.

The noise contains large amounts of sound energy, meaning sonic booms are often mistaken for explosions.