Man Killed by a Meteorite at a College in India

Man killed by a meteorite

For the first time in modern history, there are reports of a man killed by a meteorite after it struck a college campus in India. Most of the time, the meteors that come near earth are seen only as “shooting stars” like the ones in this photo. AdinaVoicu / Pixabay

In the first incident of its kind in modern times, the Wall Street Journal reports there was a man killed by a meteorite at a college campus in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.  The incident occurred about 12:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016.

The powerful explosion shattered windows and the windshields of nearby vehicles at Bharathidasan Engineering College.  The sound could be heard for approximately 3 kilometers (about 2 miles), according to G. Baskar,  principal of the college.  Students were sent home and told that classes would not resume until Wednesday.

In addition to the man killed by a meteorite that hit near the college cafeteria, three other men were injured.  The man who died was a 40 year-old named V. Kamaraj.  He operated a bus for the college.  He was walking on the campus when the object struck nearby, causing him to receive severe injuries.  He died later that day.

Two of the three men who were injured were identified as gardeners; the third man was a student at the college.  Their names and the severity of their injuries have not been released.

The chief minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa, announced that the family of the man who died would receive 100,000 rupees ($1,473) and the men who were injured would each receive 25,000 rupees.

Was it a Meteorite or Space Junk?

The falling object left a crater about 60 cm (2 feet) deep.  The head of the college described the fragments as being bluish-black rocks.  Scientists will study the fragments to confirm that they are, in fact, part of a meteor and not falling space junk.  Tentatively, people who have seen the fragments believe they came from a meteorite.

Below is a photo of the crater left by the meteorite, as well as a photo of one of the rock fragments:

What is a Meteorite?

A meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its entry into earth’s atmosphere and falls to earth.  A meteoroid is a small rock that has broken off from an asteroid or comet.  Most meteoroids burn up when they hit the earth’s atmosphere.  They are visible from earth as “shooting stars.”  Only a tiny percentage of meteoroids ever become meteorites and strike the earth.

What are the Chances that a Person Could be Hit by a Meteorite?

The chances are very small that anyone will ever be hit by a meteorite.  In fact, in at least 200 years, no one has died as a result of being hit by a meteorite, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

However, many people have been injured by meteorites.  In 2013, a 10 metric ton meteor exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains, damaging 3000 buildings and injuring approximately 1000 people.  Most of those who were injured were hurt by flying glass.  In several cases, those who were injured ran to their windows to see the cause of a bright light, only to have the window glass break and get blown into them.


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