THE RAF has admitted it was one of its jet fighters breaking the sound barrier that caused a sonic boom, leading thousands of North-East residents to believe there had been an earthquake.

Police in Northumberland were inundated with calls from concerned residents after buildings shook and loud rumbling was heard at about 3.15pm yesterday.

There were no injuries or reports of any damage.

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Gill Chambers, of the Black Swan pub, in Seahouses, said: “I was just getting logs for the fire when I heard a deep rumble, as if a tank or something was driving past outside.

“I went from the beer garden into the bar and it was still going on.

“I asked my son: ‘Did you feel that?’ and he replied ‘I thought the place was going to fall down’.”

One shopper in Berwick said: “When I heard this great rumble I thought – because I live in the countryside and am used to low-flying planes – it’s going to crash.

“I looked up at the ceiling and the suspended tiles were all jumping.”

An RAF spokesman said: “We can confirm that a single Tornado GR4 from RAF Lossiemouth completed a pre-planned supersonic run off the coast of Northumberland this afternoon during a sortie to RAF Marham in Norfolk.

“The supersonic element of the flight was conducted in accordance with RAF flying training rules, which state that aircraft should be more than ten miles from the coast.

“Any inconvenience caused to local residents, who heard the sonic boom, is regretted.

He added: “We do these all the time, but generally the climatic conditions mean that you do not hear them.

“Today, for some reason, we don’t know exactly why, the sound has travelled farther than it would do normally.”

Before the RAF owned up, British Geological Survey (BGS) had identified the cause.

A spokesman said: “Data from the BGS seismic networks in the region were examined and a signal consistent with a possible sonic origin was recorded at approximately 15.13pm.”

A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created by an object travelling through the air faster than the speed of sound – 761mph at sea level.