A Falling Meteorite May Have Killed Someone for the First Time in 200 Years

Death from above.
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Indian authorities inspect the site of a suspected meteorite landing on February 7, 2016 in Vellore district in southern Tamil Nadu state in an impact that killed a bus driver and injured three others on February 6. (Photo: Getty Images)

Indian authorities inspect the site of a suspected meteorite landing on February 7, 2016 in Vellore district in southern Tamil Nadu state in an impact that killed a bus driver and injured three others on February 6. (Photo: Getty Images)

Indian authorities are investigating the death of a man on a college campus this weekend in what appears to be the first case of a meteorite fatality in nearly two centuries, the Washington Post reports.

A blast on the Bharathidasan Engineering College campus reportedly "left a crater in the ground and blew out glass windows in nearby buildings," according to the Post, killing a bus driver and injuring several other employees and students.

"There was a noise like a big explosion," college principal G. Baskar told The Wall Street Journal. "It was an abnormal sound that could be heard til at least 3 kilometers away."

The region's chief minister, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, later confirmed that "a meteorite fell within the college premises."

The bus driver, referred to in the Indian press as V. Kamaraj, was severely injured by flying glass when the meteor exploded on impact. He later died on the way to the hospital.

Scientists are still working to confirm whether Kamaraj was in fact killed by a meteor. "When no evidence of explosive material was found, we moved to the theory that it might be a meteorite," a district official told Reuters. "It is not confirmed yet as samples need to be analyzed."

In a statement, Minister Jayaram referred to Kamaraj's death as a "mishap." Her regional government has paid the bus driver's family a  paltry sum of $1,471 in compensation.

While many headlines call this incident the first meteorite fatality in "recorded history," that's actually debatable. The last recorded death by meteorite occurred in 1825, according to International Comet Quarterly. That death also occurred in India.

h/t Washington Post