A sonic boom bellowed out over the skies of Essex after RAF planes scrambled to intercept a civilian aircraft.

Shocked residents took to social media this afternoon after hearing a huge bang in the skies above parts of the county, including in Colchester, Chelmsford and Basildon.

The noise was heard across large swathes of the east of England, including in Cambridgeshire and London.

Some residents said on social media it was so loud they felt their homes shake from the noise.

It has been revealed the noise was caused by RAF Typhoon aircraft which had set out from RAF Coningsby at 1pm on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the RAF said: "QRA Typhoon aircraft were launched this afternoon from RAF Coningsby to intercept a civilian aircraft that had lost communications; subsequently, communications were re-established, the aircraft was intercepted and safely escorted to Stansted Airport.

"The Typhoon aircraft was authorised to transit at supersonic speed for operational reasons.”

The aircraft was travelling from Germany and had lost communication with air traffic controllers.

It is understood to have been brought down safely with the assistance of the RAF planes.

A sonic boom is heard when a vehicle travels above the speed of sound in air, which is about 767 miles per hour.

The RAF says the Typhoon can go from brakes off to Mach 1.5, or 1150 miles per hour, in two and a half minutes.

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