UPDATE: it has been determined that the rocky fragments in the bottom of the crater are not of extraterrestrial origin. However, it still remains to be determined what fell from the sky, though.
For the first time in recorded history, a person is reported to have been killed by a falling meteorite. Authorities in India are reporting that the falling meteorite created a crater 4 feet deep and killed a man standing nearby. The culprit was believed to be a meteorite as rocky fragments have been found in the crater.
The event took place at a university campus in the Tamil Nadu state. A bus driver and some gardeners were standing near a cafeteria when the impact, which could reportedly be heard for 2 miles away, took place. The bus driver was killed in the resulting impact explosion and three landscapers were hurt. The explosion's shock wave also shattered windows in nearby buildings and cars.
NASA is also investigating the matter but has yet to make an official pronouncement on what happened as other causes, namely space debris falling from orbit, have yet to be ruled out as the rocks found in the crater have not yet been determined to be of extraterrestrial origin. In fact, the rocks could have already been there if something else caused the explosion.
It is estimated that, on the average day, over 60 tons of meteors rain to Earth. Despite such vast tonnage, very few make it to the Earth's surface as most incoming pieces of space rock are no larger than a grain of sand. Needless to say, as the size of a meteor rises, the frequency that earth will encounter them falls exponentially. Still, in all of recorded history, an impacting meteorite (or artificial space debris) has never been reported to have killed anybody as ancient reports of people being killed by meteorites are considered scientifically invalid.
Until this event, the closest a meteorite came to hitting anybody was when a meteorite fell through the roof of a house, deflected off a piece of furniture, and hit a woman's led as she laid on a couch. This aside, no other scientifically confirmed example of a meteorite hitting anybody, either directly or indirectly, has been confirmed. Another close call took place in 1992 when a meteorite fell through the trunk of a car.
Stay tuned on this one as analysis of the rock fragments should be forthcoming.
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