Man Believed to Be First Ever Killed by Meteorite

But some scientists remain skeptical
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2016 9:51 AM CST
Man Believed to Be First Ever Killed by Meteorite
Photo of crater reportedly left by falling object.   (Twitter)

There's the slim chance of being hit by lightning, and then there's the almost nonexistent chance of being hit by a meteorite. A man in India, however, was apparently killed by the latter, which would likely make him the first person recorded killed by an object that fell from outer space, Mashable reports. V. Kamaraj, a 40-year-old bus driver for Bharathidasan Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, was reportedly walking on campus when the meteorite smashed down around 12:30pm Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reports; he suffered severe injuries and died, while two gardeners and a student were injured. "There was a noise like a big explosion," the college principal says. "It was an abnormal sound that could be heard … about 2 miles away." Students were sent home, and classes are nixed until Wednesday.

NASA says there's no record "in modern times of any person being killed by a meteorite," and an astronomer pegged the odds of being killed by an asteroid (a meteorite is a piece of an asteroid that survives entry into Earth's atmosphere and lands) within one's lifetime as 1 in 700,000—a chance Discover notes is rare but still higher than getting killed by a terrorist (though the Discover article is from 2008). This particular meteorite was powerful enough to shatter window panes and car windshields, as well as leave a 4-foot-deep crater where it landed and what the principal describes as "blue-ish black" rock particles. The government has confirmed the deceased died from being hit by a meteorite, but some scientists are calling for further analysis of the rock, the Times of India notes. "You have a better chance of getting hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time," one astronomer says. (International Comet Quarterly lists "some interesting meteorite falls of the last two centuries," noting it was "possible" a man was killed in 1825.)

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