A meteorite may have killed a man in India, officials say.
While it has not been officially confirmed, scientists suspect a man in Tamil Nadu was killed by the falling star. It would be the first recorded death from a meteorite in nearly 200 years, if true.
According to Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, a man at a college in her state was the victim.
“A meteorite fell within the college premises,” Jayalalithaa told Reuters. The man had “sustained serious injuries and died while on the way to the hospital,” she said.
Government officials first suspected that the man was killed by explosives left following building work. However, there was no evidence of explosive material at the site.
“When no evidence of explosive material was found, we moved to the theory that it might be a meteorite,” said a district official. “It is not confirmed yet as samples need to be analysed.”
G. Baskar, who is the principal of the college in Vellore district, said he was working when he heard a blast.
“It was a sound like nothing I’ve ever heard before,” he said. “There was no smell at all, no fire, nothing.”
“There was a noise like a big explosion,” Baskar told the Wall Street Journal. “It was an abnormal sound that could be heard till at least 3 kilometers [about 2 miles] away,” he noted.
Baskar said there were tiny rock fragments at the site that were “blue-ish black” in color.
According to NASA, there is no record “in modern times of any person being killed by a meteorite.”
“An individual’s chance of being killed by a meteorite is small, but the risk increases with the size of the impacting comet or asteroid,” NASA adds on its website.