Experts have said that the claims by a group of students that a meteorite landed in Latvia on October 25, are false, and is an elaborate hoax set up by the students.
Dramatic video of a fireball at the bottom of an impact crater on farmland outside the town of Mazsalaca in Latvia was shown all over the world, taken by a group of film students who said that they had heard the meteor strike. But, according to a report in the Times, experts who examined the scene have dismissed the whole thing as a hoax.
“It’s a fake. It’s very disappointing, I was full of hope coming here, but I am certain it is not a meteorite,” said Dr Ilgonis Vilks, chairman of the scientific council at the University of Latvia’s Institute of Astronomy. Setting aside the astronomical odds of a group of film students happening to be at the ready when a meteorite hits the Earth, Dr Vilks said that several other tell-tale signs had given the game away. There was green grass inside the crater despite the intense heat supposedly generated by the meteorite. The impact crater, initially reported as 10 metres deep, was actually only 3 metres including a lip of soil a metre high around the hole. Dr Vilks said that there was neither ejected material from the hole nor any fragments of meteorite on the surrounding land. Finally, there was the flaming “meteorite” itself. “It’s a ball of clay that was burning. We took some samples from it and geologists from the university will examine it,” Dr Vilks said. “There was a small blast heard by local people, but this was not strong enough to create the crater and there’s only a small area in the hole that is burnt,” he added. Dainis Ozols, a nature conservationist who also examined the scene, said that he believed somebody had dug the hole and burnt a pyrotechnic compound at the bottom to make it appear like a meteorite crater. The alert was first raised on the evening of October 25 by Ancis Steinbergs, who said that he had been out filming for a university project with his girlfriend and a fellow undergraduate.
Video taken by the group showed them approaching the lip of the crater and filming the glowing hot “meteor” at the bottom as they talked excitedly among themselves.