Fatal meteor impact in India may be first ever recorded

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 8, 2016, 3:12 pm CST
Fatal meteor impact in India may be first ever recorded

In what is being called a first in modern history, a man in India has died after being injured by a meteor that struck a college in India. The impact also wounded three other individuals, and left behind a crater about 4ft. deep, according to officials. The incident took place this past Saturday in Tamil Nadu at Bharathidasan Engineering College a little past noon; the impact, which happened in the school’s cafeteria, is said to have produced an explosive sound heard as far away as three kilometers.

The impact resulted in an explosion-like blast of energy that shattered vehicle windshields, classroom windows, and more. While local law enforcement says scientists will investigate to determine the cause, it is believed to have been a meteorite; officials reported seeing small rock fragments in the crater that were “blue-ish black.” Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa issued a statement this weekend, but did not explain why officials believe the crater was caused by a meteor.

The unfortunate victim of the impact was V. Kamaraj, one of the college’s bus drivers. According to reports, he sustained “severe injuries” from the blast, as he was walking very close to the impact zone. He died later that day from those injuries. Two gardeners and a student were injured, as well, but have survived. Kamaraj’s family and the surviving victims will be compensated.

While this is the first modern recorded instance of a meteor impact causing a death (assuming it doesn’t turn out to be space junk), it isn’t the first time we’ve seen damage caused by a chunk of space rock. In early 2013, what is now referred to as the Chelyabinsk meteor lit up the daytime sky where it exploded. The result was injuries to many residents, about 1,500 of whom had to seek medical treatment, as well as property damage including shattered windows and structural damage.

The odds of being struck by a falling meteor are extremely low — often times, falling space objects burn up before reaching the surface, and if they do survive to impact, they most often fall in the ocean rather than on land.

However, the risk of a large impact is real, and has spurred governments and space agencies across the world to prepare. NASA has its Near Earth Object (NEO) tracking project, which identifies and tracks space rocks that are near (relatively speaking) our planet. As well, news recently surfaced about a program that tasked various nations with exploring different ways to blow up asteroids that may one day be headed our way. One example? Shooting a nuke into space.

VIA: Wall Street Journal

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