Astrophysicists to examine meteorite-like object

Team expected today, ISRO scientists visit the site

February 08, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 02, 2016 01:10 pm IST - VELLORE:

Vellore SP P.K. Senthil Kumari and other police officials inspect the site of a meteorite fall at a college in Natrampalli, Vellore district on Saturday. Photo: Special arrangement

Vellore SP P.K. Senthil Kumari and other police officials inspect the site of a meteorite fall at a college in Natrampalli, Vellore district on Saturday. Photo: Special arrangement

The Vellore police have requested scientists at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru to analyse the stone-like object, which was recovered from Bharathidasan Engineering College, Natrampalli, to ascertain if it was a meteorite.

“A small stone weighing about 10 grams was recovered from the spot. We had sent a requisition to IIA scientists asking them to come and examine the object. A team from IIA will be visiting the district on Monday to analyse it,” said P.K. Senthilkumari, Superintendent of Police, Vellore.

She said as there were doubts whether the stone was a meteorite, an analysis would establish the nature of the object.

On Saturday, one person was killed, and four others injured when the object reportedly fell on the college campus on the National Highway 48 at about 12.30 p.m. There was an explosion-like impact that left a three-four-foot deep crater on the campus.

Police personnel who recovered the stone said it was black in colour, irregular in shape and looked like “eeyam”.

The team recovered the stone at about 4 p.m. from the rear side of the college canteen. Soil samples have also been lifted for testing.

College principal G. Baskar said they heard a loud sound. “I was in my office at that time, and we felt a vibration in the building for nearly a minute. All the students and faculty members came outside and we saw a cloud of dust. Such was the intensity that a water tank exploded, killing the bus driver who had gone to drink water,” he said.

Mr. Baskar said the sound was heard four kilometres away and people travelling on the NH began arriving to the campus.

“Glasses of windows of the main college building, mechanical block, hostel, and also of the notice board, which are 200 to 400 metres away, were shattered. Windshields of 10 buses also suffered damage. People residing in houses and running bakeries located on the other side of the NH also told us that window panes [in their buildings] were broken,” he added.

Many of them reportedly complained of hearing problems for about half an hour. Classes have been suspended for one or two days as the area has to be cleared.

Police officials said a team from Indian Space Research Organisation in the district, visited the spot on Saturday.

Second incident

This is the second such incident in 10 days in the district. On January 26, villagers of Bethaveppampattu in Vaniyambadi claimed that they saw a burning object fall from the sky on an agricultural field. The object left a three-foot-deep pit.

CM announces solatium

A day after a person was killed in Vellore district due to the falling of a meteorite, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday announced a solatium to the family of the victim.

In a statement, Ms. Jayalalithaa expressed her condolences to the bereaved family and announced a solatium of Rs. 1 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund. She also announced a relief of Rs. 25,000 each to two others who were injured in the incident.

Also read: > Meteorite caused ‘mishap’ in Vellore college: Jayalalithaa

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