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Meteorite strikes Indian village

Meteors usually burn up in the intense heat of entering the Earth's atmosphere.
Meteors usually burn up in the intense heat of entering the Earth's atmosphere.

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BHUBANESWAR, India -- Two people have been injured and several homes badly damaged by a suspected meteorite crashing into a village in eastern India, reports said Sunday.

The fiery object crashed to earth shortly after sunset Saturday in the coastal state of Orissa, the Press Trust of India reported.

Witnesses reported a bright fireball briefly lighting up the night sky and causing panic among local residents, the PTI report said.

Reports from several districts described an ear spitting noise that shattered several windows as the object sped overhead.

At least one part of the fireball came down in a village in Mayurbhanj district, setting several homes alight and lightly injuring at least two people.

The report said other parts of the suspected meteorite may have crashed into another village, also setting at least one thatched house ablaze.

Officials in the area have been asked to collect any remaining samples of the object for scientific analysis.

The PTI quoted local meteorological and space experts as saying the object was most likely a meteor.

Hundreds of small objects strike the Earth's atmosphere every day, creating what are commonly known as shooting stars or, more properly, meteors.

However, all but a few burn up or explode well before they hit the ground as a result of the friction caused by entering the Earth's atmosphere at speeds in excess of 10,000 kilometers an hour.

Those few rocks that do survive the fiery journey are known as meteorites.

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