Meteorite did it: CM Jayalalithaa on Vellore death

Condoling the death of a bus driver, Kamaraj, she announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to his family and Rs 25,000 each to the three injured persons from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund.

By: Express News Service | Chennai | Updated: February 9, 2016 4:52 am
Jayalalithaa, Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu, PM modi, CM jayalalithaa, tamil nadu fishermen. tamil nadu sri lanka, tamil fishermen, india news File photo of Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa

THIS may be the first official confirmation of an object from space killing a living thing on earth this side of the 20th century.

On Sunday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa issued a statement saying the death of a man on the premises of a private engineering college in Vellore district the day before had been caused by a meteorite.

“A mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district’s K Pantharappalli village…,” she said in a release here, adding that she had ordered the district administration and hospital officials to offer the best treatment to the three injured.

Window panes of Bharatidasan Engineering College buses and several glass planes of its building had been damaged when the object said to be a meteorite by the state government fell, causing a loud explosion and leaving a small crater near the college complex. The deceased, a driver with the college named Kamaraj, was at the time walking past the building. The injured were employed as gardeners. None of the students, who were at the time in their classes, was injured.

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Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a flying object falling down and striking the campus at around Saturday noon.

The crater left by the object ‘that fell from sky’. (Express Photo) The crater left by the object ‘that fell from sky’. (Express Photo)

Police initially probed a terror angle, but as a senior officer told The Indian Express, they couldn’t find any trace of an explosive or grenade causing the blast. Finally, the officer said, they concluded it was the result of a meteorite fall with the help of a senior scientist who was camping in Vellore due to a similar incident two weeks ago.

“Following a similar incident near Vellore on January 26, on a paddy field in Alangayam village, a scientist from National Physical Laboratory had been camping near Vellore. When our bomb and explosives experts ruled out the presence of usual chemicals and explosive contents, it was the scientist who visited the campus and confirmed it was an incident caused by a meteorite,” the officer said.

While there have been claims earlier of meteorites proving fatal, including in the 20th century, there is no official confirmation of the same except for a cow that came under one in Venezuela in 1972, was struck dead, and quickly eaten. In 2007, the killer meteorite, which came to be used as a doorstop, was put up for auction. At the time, The Telegraph daily of the UK said the Valera meteorite fragment “holds the dubious distinction of being the only extra-terrestrial rock to have caused a death”.

The only confirmed human meteorite victim in history so far has been Ann Hodges, who was hit in her Alabama home in 1954 and survived.

The most famous and researched incident involving meteorites in recent past was in Chelyabinsk in 2013. While the powerful shock wave from the meteor damaged buildings, shattered glass and left hundreds injured, there were no deaths.

The odds of being killed by an asteroid impact, as per experts? Between 1 in 700,000 and 1 in 250 million.

The family of Kamaraj, whose luck ran out Saturday, gets Rs 1 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.

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First Published on: February 8, 2016 3:02 am
  1. S
    Feb 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm
    Deepest, heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Kamaraj. However, if true,this incident has a huge scientific value . Usually ,meteorites burn up in atmosphere and very few reach the earth surface . The last incident (Chelyabinsk,Feb-15, 2013) was a very powerful explosion,but there was no loss to life because of the low potion density in the region, though meteorite fragments were recovered from a lake .If a fragment is recovered in this case, it should be named 'Kamaraj' ...
    1. A
      Feb 7, 2016 at 1:39 pm
      @dv1936. You said it. But now sanghis will say Allah sent the meteorite. They had already proclaimed it to be an Islamic experimental bomb.
      1. R
        Feb 7, 2016 at 4:07 pm
        What is this jihadi pig talking about? You are making a bomb ?
        1. d
          Feb 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm
          Divine terrorism
          1. K
            Kaadhal Enbathupoi
            Feb 8, 2016 at 6:58 am
            amma wont win this time around hindutva
            1. M
              Mu Ka
              Feb 8, 2016 at 5:00 am
              I wonder if a meteorite will fall on her poes garden residence
              1. M
                Feb 8, 2016 at 5:13 am
                This is done by ABVP but Amma is pacifying Modi by not naming them.
                1. A
                  Feb 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm
                  Amma is proving to be a Radhe Maa..will the tamilians wake up ?.
                  1. S
                    Feb 7, 2016 at 2:10 pm
                    wrong place at the wrong time.... providence!!! But atleast his family can be at peace knowing that his death was not caused by some gun totting/ bomb happy radical...
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