Hard to believe: A meteorite killed a bus driver in Vellore says Tamil Nadu Government

A mysterious explosion at the Bharathidasan Engineering College in Vellore, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu left one dead and three injured. According to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the cause of the explosion was determined to be a meteorite.

A meteorite is a piece of a comet or asteroid that makes it to Earth’s surface.

In a statement, she added: “A mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district’s K Pantharappalli village.”

A bus driver who was walking in the area was struck by the meteorite and killed. The victim, named only as Kamaraj was reportedly thrown 10 feet into the air by the impact, and declared dead once he was transferred to hospital.

Saturday’s blast also injured three people. It also created a crater and shattered windowpanes of nearby buses and buildings. Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a flying object falling down and striking the campus at around Saturday noon.

The police first suspected the explosion to be caused by a man made bomb however later it was confirmed as a meteorite.

“The probability of being killed by a meteorite is negligible, even witnessing one fall is rare. A fact-finding team of scientists is in Vellore to examine the crater and residue,” says Dr Harsh Vardhan, India’s minister for Science and Technology.

A team from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore is at the spot to examine the situation.

“We don’t have any records of deaths caused by meteorites in India. We cannot comment on the death as it is a police case. You’ll have to ask the police,” said K Thiyagarajan, principal staff officer, director’s office, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.

“Scientists are there and we’ll know more when they’re back,” said Thiyagarajan.

If the statement issued by the government of Tamil Nadu is true, then the death of the Indian bus driver, Kamaraj in Natrampalli could be the first confirmed recorded death of a human being caused by a meteorite.

In addition to offering the best medical treatment the government promised to pay the families of the victim and those who were injured compensations for the unfortunate “mishap.”

“I have ordered the Vellore district administration and hospital officials to provide them best treatment,” Jayalalithaa said.

In a statement released Sunday, Jayalalithaa promised 100,000 rupees (approximately $1,600 USD) to the family of the deceased and 25,000 rupees (approximately $400 USD) to each of the other three injured victims.

Based mostly upon a list by International Extraterrestrial Object Quarterly, there never has been any confirmed human death because of meteorite strikes, even though there are a number of interesting close calls. For instance, meteorites have landed in homes and hit individuals as they have slept, however, there havent been any fatalities before this incident.

The National History Museum, London, clearly says: “There have been no recorded deaths due to a meteorite fall.” Even the massive Chelyabinsk meteorite that led to nearly 1,500 injuries in Russia in 2013 did not result in fatalities.

As per experts, the odds of being killed by an asteroid impact are 1 in 700,000 and 1 in 250 million.

So Kamaraj was really unlucky!

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