India farmers shocked as suspected meteorite crashes into rice field

NEW DELHI (AFP) – A suspected meteorite the size of a football plunged into a rice field in eastern India, startling farmers, authorities said yesterday.

Onlookers said the light brown-coloured object sent them fleeing from the field when it fell at their rural village on Wednesday afternoon, sending up smoke.

“The farmers were working in the paddy field when this heavy rock fell from the sky with a very loud noise,” Magistrate for Madhubani district in Bihar state Shirsat Kapil Ashok told AFP.

The villagers returned after the smoke subsided and pulled the rock out from its four-feet-deep crater. “We saw it has very strong magnetic properties, some shine and weighs around 15 kilogrammes,” Ashok added.

The find is being analysed by scientists as a possible meteorite.

Meteors are particles of dustand rock that usually burn up as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, with those that survive the fall known as meteorites.

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, the United States (US) space agency NASA later said did not believe the object was a meteorite.

In February 2013 a meteorite plunged over Russia’s Ural Mountains, creating a shockwave that injured around 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes.

ABOVE & BELOW: A villager holds a 10kg meteorite that crashed in a field at Mahadeva village in Madhubani district of the Indian eastern state of Bihar; and farmers pose around the crater of the meteorite. – PHOTOS: AFP