Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Officials confirm meteorite strike

September 20, 2007

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— A fiery meteorite crashed into southern Peru over the weekend, experts confirmed on Wednesday. But they were still puzzling over claims that it gave off fumes that sickened 200 people.

Local residents told reporters that a fiery ball fell from the sky and smashed into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border Saturday morning.

Jose Mechare, a scientist with Peru's Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute, said a geologist had confirmed that it was a "rocky meteorite," based on the fragments analyzed.

He said water in the meteorite's muddy crater boiled for maybe 10 minutes from the heat and could have given off a vapor that sickened people, and scientists were taking water samples.

"We are not completely certain that there was no contamination," Mechare said.

Jorge Lopez, director of the health department in the state where the meteorite crashed, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that 200 people suffered headaches, nausea and respiratory problems caused by "toxic" fumes emanating from the crater, which is some 65 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

But a team of doctors who reached the isolated site said Wednesday they found no evidence the meteorite had sickened people.

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