VELLORE: It’s been confirmed that it was an object falling from the sky, and not a blast of explosive substances, that killed a bus driver of an engineering college near Natrampalli in Vellore on Saturday.
Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has announced Rs. 1 lakh as solatium to the family of the deceased driver, Kamaraj.
The spot where meteorite crashed on January 26 in Vellore. | EPS
A loud blast was heard near a water tank shortly after midnight on the Bharathidasan Engineering College premises in K.Bandarappalli village. Kamaraj, a college employee, who had gone to drink water suffered serious injuries and was declared dead when taken to the Vaniyambadi Government Hospital. Three others suffered minor injuries. a top police official told The Hindu.
Window panes and wind screens of buses parked nearby and the water tank were broken in the impact of the blast. A crater was formed at the site of blast.
After a similar blast was reported in a paddy field at Alangayam in the same district on January 26, a senior Astrophysicist of the National Physical Laboratory, Ahmedabad, came to the district for a study. In the earlier incident, local people remember having seen an object falling from the sky in the field,” the official said.
The impact that killed a 40-year-old bus driver shattered the windshields of five buses parked on the campus and gouged out a small crater on the ground. Students scurried out of their classes when they heard the deafening impact.
Initial eyewitness accounts said they saw a mysterious object falling from the sky. It hit the ground and caused an explosion.
Meteorites are remnants of asteroids that broke apart when our solar system’s planets were formed. As they hurtle through space, some enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of them burn up as they fall but a very rare few reach impact. Meteorites look similar to earthly rocks except they have a burned exterior.
Police, however, dismissed these initial eyewitness accounts as rumours. They put out the guesswork that the explosion was caused by gelatine sticks buried and abandoned amid the rocks at the time of construction of the college.
They said that the college’s gardeners, Sasikumar(42) and Murali (26), were burnt garbage to clean up the garden and inadvertantly set off the unused gelatine sticks.
Sources said that Kamaraj and another driver Sultan (57) were drinking water from a water tank in the garden when they were hit by splinters from the meteorite.
Kamaraj fell with bleeding injuries and Sultan sustained minor injuries. Kamaraj was rushed to the government hospital in Vaniyambadi but died on the way.