A meteor (L) from the Geminids meteor shower enters the Earth's atmosphere past the stars Castor and Pollux (two bright stars, R) on December 12, 2009 above Southold, New York. This meteor shower gets the name "Geminids" because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini. Geminids are pieces of debris from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. Earth runs into a stream of debris from the object every year in mid-December, causing the meteors. The peak of the shower is expected the night of December 13-14 at about 0500 GMT on December 14.  AFP PHOTO/Stan Honda        (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Mysterious object from sky kills man in India
00:51 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A bus driver was killed in India's Tamil Nadu when object fell from sky Saturday

It caused a loud noise and left an impact crater 60 cm (2 feet) deep

If debris is confirmed as a meteorite, it would be the first such death on record

New Delhi CNN  — 

Indian scientists will examine remains from an object that fell from the sky Saturday, causing a large explosion which killed a man, to determine if it is a meteorite, police say.

If the object is confirmed to be a meteorite – a fragment of a comet or asteroid that has fallen to Earth – the death would be the first fatality from a meteorite on record, it is believed.

P. K. Senthil Kumari, the police chief in Vellore district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, told CNN that the object struck the grounds of an engineering school at about midday Saturday, making a loud noise and leaving an impact crater about 60 cm (2 feet) deep.

Police roped off the impact site at Bharathidasan Engineering College in India's Tamil Nadu state.

The resulting blast killed a 40-year-old named Kamaraj, who worked as a bus driver on the campus of the Bharathidasan Engineering College, the police chief said. Like many in the state, the victim only used one name.

Two gardeners and a student at the college were also injured in the incident, and are receiving treatment at a hospital in Vellore, the chief added.

The impact shattered the windows of a number of buses on campus, she said.

Meteorite or space junk?

Senthil Kumari said it was yet to be confirmed whether the object that caused the blast was a meteorite, as opposed to falling space junk or some other form of debris.

Police recovered a piece of debris from the collision, which will be analyzed by a scientist from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

“We wait until the investigation is over to confirm if the object was a meteorite,” she said.

Tamil Nadu’s state government released a statement on the incident Sunday, describing it as a meteorite strike and offering 100,000 rupees ($1471) in compensation to the victim’s family.

In 2013, a large meteor exploded over the Russian region of Chelyabinsk, producing a huge flash and shock wave, and showering the territory below with many small meteorites.

The incident left more than 1,000 people injured, but caused no fatalities.

Journalist Roshni Majumdar reported from New Delhi and Tim Hume wrote and reported from London.