In Brief

Indian bus driver 'was killed by a meteorite'

Samples taken after local man dies - but experts cast doubts on meteorite claim

An Indian bus driver has died after being struck by a meteorite, according to local officials in the area.

The man, identified as V Kamaraj, who drove a bus for Bharathidasan Engineering College in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was washing his face in a water tank when an explosion occurred.

"Once the dust and heavy smoke had cleared, Mr Kamaraj was spotted lying unconscious next to a mysterious, two-foot wide crater, with serious facial injuries," says the Daily Telegraph.

Though scientists are yet to analyse the fragments found at the site, a local official spoke with certainty.

"An accident occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college," said Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the Tamil Nadu's chief minister, on Sunday.

"Kamaraj was severely injured and taken to hospital. On the way there, he succumbed to his injuries. I offer my sincere condolences to Kamaraj's family,"

The victim's family will receive 100,000 rupees (£1,000) from the state's public relief fund, with smaller amounts paid out to three others injured in the incident.

However, experts have thrown doubt on the local official's findings, with Sujan Sengupta, an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, telling the Wall Street Journal there was "extremely little possibility" of a small meteorite falling to the ground and killing someone.

"If a bigger asteroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it will disintegrate and travel in different directions and because most of the Earth's surface is covered in water, it is most likely to fall into the ocean," he said.

Roughly 500 meteorites hit the Earth's surface every year, though most go unnoticed.

The chances of being killed by a meteorite in your lifetime are 700,000 to 1, says the Telegraph.

In fact, according to International Comet Quarterly, a scientific journal which tracks "interesting meteorite falls", the last space rock tragedy happened in 1825, when a man was killed by what it journal considers a "possible" meteorite.                            

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