Vellore ‘meteorite’ strike: Stone handed to IIAP

Senior officials said the truth behind the incident will be revealed after the IIAP analysis.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: February 10, 2016 3:40 am
meteor A paddy field in Vellore which also has a similar crater.

A senior scientist from Indian Institute of Astrophysics’ Vainu Bappu Observatory at Kavalur received the only evidence of the Vellore meteorite incident — a “dark bluish” stone weighing roughly 10 gm — from Tamil Nadu police on Tuesday.

The stone was recovered around 40 m away from the nearly 4 feet deep crater left behind by the explosion on the campus of Bharathidasan Engineering College in Natrampalli near Vellore, an accident that killed one and injured two.

Senior officials said the truth behind the incident will be revealed after the IIAP analysis.

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Meanwhile, the college campus witnessed several visitors on Monday, including officials from Tamil Nadu forensic science department, geologists and a forensic surgeon who conducted the autopsy of V Kamaraj, the driver employed at the college who was killed in the incident.

Read | Meteorite did it: CM Jayalalithaa on Vellore death

The police team probing the incident is also waiting for results of 100-odd samples collected from the body before ruling out the presence of chemical or explosive substances. “Preliminary observation from the autopsy is that the explosion took place above ground level, at least at the height of a person,” said a senior police officer.

Read | Vellore blast: Meteorite claim later, they search for a shooting star

K Pari, assistant director of the state forensic science department, said multiple samples from the spot and Kamaraj’s body had been sent to various agencies to ascertain the truth behind the explosion. “We are waiting for the results, although it has largely been confirmed that a meteorite hit the campus,” he said. With a small piece of stone being the only sample recovered from the spot, Pari said the crater must have been formed due to high pressure waves of the explosion.

The team of geologists was led by K Anbarasu, principal of National College, Trichy. He said his team, comprising a chemist, a biotechnologist and a retired official of Geological Survey of India, has collected multiple samples of rocks and soil for analysis at his laboratory. “Most samples we collected are magnetic in nature. But we cannot confirm it was a meteorite until we get results of the chemical analysis,” he said.