CHENNAI: A BUS driver in India may have the unfortunate distinction of being the first human to be killed by a meteorite in modern recorded history.
A suspected meteorite crashed to earth inside the grounds of a college campus in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on Saturday. At the time, 40-year-old bus driver V. Kamaraj happened to be walking near the site of impact.
He was fatally wounded, while three others – two gardeners and a student – were injured, reported The Wall Street Journal.
In a statement on Sunday, J. Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, blamed the incident on a meteorite strike.
The principal of the college, G. Baskar, said he saw “blue-ish black” rock fragments at the crash site.
Here’s an image allegedly of a piece of meteorite found at the scene. However, it noticeably lacks the “blue-ish” look described by the college principal.
The likelihood of being struck or killed by a meteorite is exceedingly small. The world’s premier space agency, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), notes that “no human in the past 1000 years is known to have been killed by a meteorite or by the effects of one impacting.”
However, that seems to contradict a meteorite incidents list cited by the BBC. The International Comet Quarterly list mentioned a “meteorite fall” event in 1825 which killed a man and injured a woman, also in India.
Indian scientists are now working to verify whether the event was indeed caused by a meteorite – as opposed to falling man-made space debris (for example, from an old satellite).
The state will give a compensation package of 100,000 rupees (US$1,473) to the family of the bus driver. The injured victims, on the other hand, are each slated to receive 25,000 rupees (US$368). – From AP