India

Indian scientists to verify Tamil Nadu meteorite death claim

  • 9 February 2016
  • From the section India
The meteorite left a crater inside the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore
Image caption The meteorite left a crater inside the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore

Indian scientists have been asked to verify claims that a man died after being hit by a meteorite in southern Vellore city.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram said on Sunday that Kamraj, a bus driver, died after a meteorite fell on a college campus.

Scientists said tests were needed to confirm that the rock was a meteorite.

If confirmed, experts said this would be the first such death in nearly 200 years.

According to a list prepared by the International Comet Quarterly, a man was killed in a "meteorite fall" in India in 1825.

PK Senthilkumari, chief of Vellore police, told The Hindu that a "small stone weighing about 10g was recovered from the spot" at Bharathidasan Engineering College.

Image copyright Tamil Nadu Police
Image caption Further tests were needed to confirm that the darkish rock was actually a meteorite

"We have requested scientists to come and examine the object."

Kamraj was working in the campus when the object fell and caused a loud explosion. It left a crater in the ground and blew out glass windows in the adjoining buildings.

The victim "sustained serious injuries and died while on the way to the hospital," Ms Jayaram said.

The government has announced a financial aid of 100,000 (£1,000;$1,441) for Kamraj's family.

Meteors are chunks of rock and debris that burn up as they plummet through Earth's atmosphere. Meteorites are larger, more durable objects that survive heating in the atmosphere and land on Earth.