'Meteorite' kills man in south India, authorities say (Update)

February 8, 2016

Indian authorities say a falling object that killed a bus driver and injured three others was a meteorite. If proven, it would be the first such death in recorded history.

Experts said other explanations were possible for the incident Saturday in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

The impact of the object left a five-foot-deep crater in the ground, according to the Times of India, and shattered window panes in a nearby building, killing the driver who was walking past.

The object weighed only 11 grammes, the newspaper added, about as heavy as a AAA battery.

Images in local media showed a blueish rock, which Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram described as a "meteorite"—although scientists say this has not yet been proved.

"A meteorite fell at a private engineering college... and claimed the life of a college bus driver," said the chief minister in a statement late Sunday, expressing "shock" at the news.

S. P. Rajaguru, assistant professor at the Indian Astrophysics Institute in Bangalore, said the rock could be a meteorite but further tests were needed.

If proven it would be the first meteorite death of a human in recorded history, he said.

"Most of the meteors never reach the earth surface as they completely vaporise in the atmosphere," he told AFP by phone.

"Hitting the Earth surface is very rare and there have been no deaths in recorded history."

Rajaguru said the missile could be debris from a rocket or a space shuttle.

Meteors are particles of dust and rock that usually burn up as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere.

Those that do not burn up completely, surviving the fall to Earth, are known as meteorites.

Explore further: Encounters of another kind: meteorite chunk falls on Oslo

Related Stories

Moroccan desert meteorite delivers Martian secrets

October 11, 2012

(Phys.org)—A meteorite that landed in the Moroccan desert 14 months ago is providing more information about Mars, the planet where it originated. University of Alberta researcher Chris Herd helped in the study of the Tissint ...

Globally unique double crater identified in Sweden

September 11, 2015

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have found traces of two enormous meteorite impacts in the Swedish county of Jämtland, a twin strike that occurred around 460 million years ago.

Recommended for you

Rosetta captures comet outburst

August 25, 2016

In unprecedented observations made earlier this year, Rosetta unexpectedly captured a dramatic comet outburst that may have been triggered by a landslide.

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

eric_in_chicago
not rated yet Feb 08, 2016
Nibiru did it! The sky is falling!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.