Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Peru meteorite crash 'causes mystery illness'

A meteorite has struck a remote part of Peru and carved a large crater that is emitting noxious odours and making villagers ill, according to local press reports.

A fireball streaked across the Andean sky late on Saturday night and crashed into a field near Carancas, a sparsely populated highland wilderness near Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, witnesses said.
Uh oh. More photos here. "Causó alarma en los pobladores." I can imagine. Scientists investigating. Jorge López Tejada, a representative of the Regional Health Directorate, reports:

"Between 10 and 12 people have reported dizziness, migraines and in some cases vomiting. They assure that after having had close contact with the object the symptoms began," stated Tejada. Furthermore, Tejada stated that check ups would be performed and that it had not been discarded that the symptoms could be related to the glowing object which fell from the sky.

"They are healthy people, it could be (due to) radiation, we don't know, we are assuming, it's worth investigating. Things will be clearer tomorrow," stated Tejada.
More here.

Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odor," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP.

Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being hospitalized, Lopez said.

Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene, where the meteorite left a 30-metre-wide and six-metre-deep crater, said local official Marco Limache.

"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.

"Residents are very concerned." Typical Peruvian understatement, no doubt.

Update: Video here

Update: More than 600 villagers ill (with more video.)

Update: (NBC) Slideshow of photos

Update: (BBC) Scores ill in Peru 'meteor crash'

A team of scientists is on its way to the site to collect samples and verify whether it was indeed a meteorite.

"It [the object] is buried in the earth," local resident Heber Mamani told the BBC.

"That is why we are asking for an analysis because we are worried for our people. They are afraid. A bull is dead and some other animals are already sick," he said.

In related news--one month to the day before the alleged meteor impact: Scores killed in Peru Earthquake

A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake has hit the coast of Peru, killing at least 337 people and injuring hundreds more, Peru's civil defence institute says.
Berenice, another resident, said the earthquake was the strongest she had ever felt.

"For some it seemed like the end of the world, and most people I know are still nervous," she said.


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