Man Reportedly Killed By A Meteorite For The First Time In Modern History
An Indian man appears to have become the first person in modern history to be killed by a meteorite.
According to The Wall Street Journal, something fell from the sky just outside a cafeteria at Bharathidasan Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, India around 12:30 pm on Saturday.
Classroom windows, along with car windshields, were shattered by the impact, which reportedly left a crater 4 feet deep.
Bharathidasan Principal G. Baskar recalled the sound of the strike, reportedly saying,
There was a noise like a big explosion. It was an abnormal sound that could be heard till at least 3 kilometers [about 2 miles] away.
Small pieces of the object had a "blue-ish black" color, Baskar added, according to The Wall Street Journal.
All students were sent home immediately after the strike and will not return to classes until Wednesday.
A bus driver for the college was apparently walking near the cafeteria when the object struck, and he reportedly died that day after sustaining serious injuries.
The object also injured two gardeners and a student, though their conditions were not disclosed.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa announced on Sunday the object was a meteorite.
It seems, however, scientific authorities have yet to confirm the object's identity.
The family of the driver, V. Kamaraj, will be compensated with 100,000 rupees (about $1,400), while the three injured will receive 25,000 rupees (about $370), Jayalalithaa said.
If the object is officially determined to be a meteorite, Kamaraj will be the first person in modern history known to have died from such an object.
Sujan Sengupta, an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said the likelihood of someone being killed by a meteorite is "extremely" small.
He reportedly added,
If a bigger asteroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it will disintegrate and travel in different directions and because most of the Earth's surface is covered in water, it is most likely to fall into the ocean.
Small pieces of asteroids or comets circling the sun are technically classified as meteoroids.
They become meteorites when they enter Earth's atmosphere without being burned up and then make contact with Earth's surface.
Meteoroids that do burn up often leave a fiery trail in the process and are known as shooting stars.