Indian farmers shocked as suspected meteorite crashes into rice field

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Indian farmers shocked as suspected meteorite crashes into rice field” was written by Rebecca Ratcliffe in Delhi, for The Guardian on Thursday 25th July 2019 19.21 Asia/Kolkata

A suspected meteorite crashed into the middle of a rice field in eastern India, authorities say.

The object the size of a football landed with a thud in a paddy field in Madhubani district in Bihar state on Monday, startling farmers and sending up clouds of smoke.

Kapil Ashok, the magistrate for Madhubani, told the Times of India that labourers reported seeing “a fireball-like object coming down from the sky”. Residents of Mahadeva village later dug up the object from a 150cm-deep (5ft) deep hole.

The object was described as light brown in colour with some shine, and weighing about 15kg (33lb). It was reported to have strong magnetic properties.

Ashok told the Press Trust of India it looked like a rock “but its glitter is much more than that of an unpolished stone”.

A villager holds the suspected meteorite.
A villager holds the suspected meteorite. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The object will initially be kept at the Bihar Museum but will be transferred to the Shrikrishna science centre in the city of Patna where it will be studied by experts.

Meteors are particles of dust and rock that usually burn up as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere. Meteorites – meteors that survive the fall to earth – offer clues about the history of the solar system.

In 2016 authorities in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state said a meteorite killed a bus driver and injured three others. While Indian scientists backed the claim of the regional authorities, it was disputed by Nasa scientists.

In 2013 almost 1,100 people were injured after a meteorite flared in the skies above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The meteor broke up before it hit the ground, but an airburst caused damage to buildings and hurled people across rooms.

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Indian farmers shocked as suspected meteorite crashes into rice field | NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).