Possible Peruvian meteor strike reported

Sept. 20, 2007 at 9:38 PM
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LIMA, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Officials Thursday were investigating claims as many as 200 people became ill after a possible meteorite strike in a remote region of Peru.

Witnesses reported seeing a fiery astral object zoom through the sky last weekend, Independent Television News reported Thursday. It appears to have plowed into the Andean plain near Carancas not far from the Bolivian border, leaving a crater 60 feet wide and 21 feet deep.

People in the area reported suffering headaches and nausea afterward, and there was concern about their water supply.

A police spokesman said doctors at a health center at Desaguadero had recommended people avoid contact with any meteor fragments, but meteor expert Ursula Marvin said dust raised by the meteor's impact was more likely responsible for any illnesses, the network said.

However, Fox News said based on reports of fumes coming from the crater, some scientists suspect the event may have resulted from some sort of geyser-like explosion rather than a meteor from space.

"Statistically, it's far more likely to have come from below than from above," said Don Yeomans, head of the Near Earth Object Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who added that "meteorites don't give off odors."

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