VELLORE: It's been confirmed that it was an object falling from the sky, and not a blast of explosive substances, that killed a bus driver of an engineering college near Natrampalli in Vellore on Saturday.
Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has announced Rs. 1 lakh as solatium to the family of the deceased driver, Kamaraj.
The impact that killed a 40-year-old bus driver shattered the windshields of five buses parked on the campus and gouged out a small crater on the ground. Students scurried out of their classes when they heard the deafening impact.
Initial eyewitness accounts said they saw a mysterious object falling from the sky. It hit the ground and caused an explosion.
Meteorites are remnants of asteroids that broke apart when our solar system's planets were formed. As they hurtle through space, some enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of them burn up as they fall but a very rare few reach impact. Meteorites look similar to earthly rocks except they have a burned exterior.
Police, however, dismissed these initial eyewitness accounts as rumours. They put out the guesswork that the explosion was caused by gelatine sticks buried and abandoned amid the rocks at the time of construction of the college.
They said that the college's gardeners, Sasikumar(42) and Murali (26), were burnt garbage to clean up the garden and inadvertantly set off the unused gelatine sticks.
Sources said that Kamaraj and another driver Sultan (57) were drinking water from a water tank in the garden when they were hit by splinters from the meteorite.
Kamaraj fell with bleeding injuries and Sultan sustained minor injuries. Kamaraj was rushed to the government hospital in Vaniyambadi but died on the way.
A third-year student, Santosh (20) who was in the vicinity of the explosion complained of loss of hearing. All three are undergoing treatment at the government hospital at Tirupattur.
A bomb squad along with sniffer dogs cordoned off the spot and searched for clues to determine the cause of the explosion.