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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Meteor dazzles Indians
Officials investigating a meteorite that crashed in eastern India say it was part of the most spectacular meteor shower in the country's recent history.

Meteor shower in Orissa
Witnesses say the meteor lit up the night sky "like daylight"
Flaming debris from the space rock lit up the sky in Orissa state on Saturday night, and sent villagers running after its burning fragments set fire to their houses.

"I have never seen a meteor covering such a large area with a huge fireball and roaring sound," said Basant Kumar Mohanty, senior director of the Geological Survey of India.

According to state authorities, two large fragments of the meteorite, weighing roughly five kilograms each, have been recovered.


Meanwhile, locals in Orissa have been describing what they saw.

"I first mistook it for... a crashing aircraft, when I saw the huge fireball with so much bright light," said Bandita Das, a housewife.

"For about 10 seconds, the evening on Saturday got lighted up. I panicked and took my kids inside the house."

Bishwa Bhushan Harichandan, a minister in Orissa's state government, told the BBC the fireball was seen by people in "seven to eight districts, covering about 14,000 to 15,000 square kilometres".

He said only three people had been injured as a result of the meteorite falling to earth. Earlier reports said at least 20 people had been hurt.

An old man receiving treatment in hospital is also reported to have died of shock on seeing the meteor.

The people of Orissa are familiar with cyclones and floods, and according to correspondents, they feel Saturday's meteor shower has added a new threat to their lives.

Scientists say, however, the risk of being killed by a falling meteorite is not worth worrying about.

Meteorite wrecks houses in India
28 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Meteor's family poses puzzle
08 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Shooting star observed from space
17 Feb 00  |  Science/Nature


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