On February 6, Kamaraj, a bus driver of a Vellore college died when apparently a ‘meteorite’ fell near him

NYT quotes NASA saying it was probably a land explosion not a meteor in Vellore
news Accident Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 15:38

On Tuesday, the New York Times published a story dismissing the ‘meteorite theory' in connection with the death of a man in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.

On February 6, Kamaraj, a bus driver of a Vellore college died when apparently a ‘meteorite’ fell near him as he was walking past the college building.

Another three were reportedly injured in the same incident.    

The following day, CM J Jayalalithaa through a press release announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to the family of the deceased and said that meteorite had caused the death.

The New York Times article cited a NASA public statement which said that photographs of the craters posted online suggested it was probably a land based explosion rather than anything crashing down from space.

The publication also quoted an email from Lindley Johnson, NASA’s planetary defense officer saying there was no recorded incident of deaths due to meteorites and the object recovered to be the purported meteorite was only a few grams and looked like common earth rock.

The same article mentions the most recent major meteor shower in Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013 when there was no death reported despite the injury toll being as high as 1200.

The Russian authorities had then said those injuries were mostly caused by broken glass that exploded into buildings.

Read: Meteorite shower or satellite debris? Decoding the mystery behind Vellore meteor explosion  

It was widely reported that window panes of the college buses and several glass planes of the building were damaged when the meteorite fell.

A bluish object which was recovered at the site was sent for testing and a small crater measuring 3-4 feet in depth and a radius of 10 meters had been identified.

However, scientists were not unanimous on the cause of the death.

Speaking to The News Minute, Dipankar Banerjee, a professor from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, told that the chances of it being a meteorite were dim and that it could just be space debris or part of a broken satellite that managed to enter the earth’s atmosphere.

 

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