The experts said
the small crater, the absence of a sonic boom before impact, a
lack of debris and the green and blue color of rock recovered
from the scene suggest some other cause."It is highly
improbable, but we will only be absolutely sure after a chemical
analysis," said V. Adimurthy, a senior scientist at India's
space agency.The mysterious event has triggered an international
debate about whether a meteorite, space debris, leftover
explosives or even frozen waste from a plane passing overhead
may have killed the man.The meteorite attribution was announced
this week by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, a former film
star who is known for her authoritarian style.A bus driver was
killed by the meteorite at an engineering college in the state,
she said, and awarded a sum of 100,000 rupees ($1,470) in
compensation to his family.
"A meteorite fell within the college premises," she said.
Jayalalithaa has a cult-like following in her state, with her
pictures on prominent display in the offices of her party's
politicians, as a sign of their unquestioning loyalty. Since her
comments, state officials have been reluctant to discuss
publicly what happened.
A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics
in Bangalore arrived in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday to inspect the
2-metre (6.56-ft) -wide crater and collect the recovered rock
sample, which is small enough to fit in a hand. G.C. Anupama, an
astronomy professor at the institute, said the probe would focus
on the chemicals in the debris, as meteorites have high iron
levels. She declined to comment whether she believed the debris
was a meteorite.C.B. Devgun, who has been tracking meteorites
for the last two decades, said the color of the rock and absence
of other particles ruled out a meteorite.
"It cannot be a meteorite," he said. "It was a greenish color
and no other pieces of debris were found. Normally it would be a
darkish yellow or darkish black in color, just like burned coal,
with a slightly melted surface."
The last reported death from a meteorite strike was in 1825,
according to a list maintained by International Comet Quarterly,
a scientific journal.
In 2013, a meteorite that exploded over central Russia rained
down fireballs and caused a shock wave that smashed windows,
damaged buildings and injured 1,200 people.
(Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)
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