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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Sept 18, 2007 23:16:37 GMT -6
Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village
Villagers in southern Peru were struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area, regional authorities said Monday.
Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was an airplane crashing near their remote village, located in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.
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 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) and 20-foot-deep (six-meter-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.
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Sept 20, 2007 3:39:15 GMT -6
Peruvian scientists probe fumes from meteorite crater
In this photo released by La Republica Newspaper, people watch a crater in Puno, Peru, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2007, caused by a supposed meteorite that crashed in southern Peru over the weekend causing hundreds of people to suffer headaches, nausea and respiratory problems, a health official said Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/ La Republica Newspaper)
Scientists on Tuesday investigated a deep crater created by a meteorite strike in southeastern Peru that left 200 villagers sick from powerful fumes emanating from the crash site. Scores of residents of the farming village of Carancas began vomiting and complaining of headaches and dizziness after the space object struck the area Saturday, creating an eight-meter (26-foot) deep, 20-meter (65-foot) wide crater.
Seven police officers who went to crater were given oxygen taken to hospital after suffering from similar symptoms.
Villagers now fear that the fumes may have exposed them to long-term health problems, while some are also concerned that more objects could fall from space. Local residents said they heard an explosion and felt the ground shake after the meteorite crashed.
The fumes from the crater are so strong that one scientist reported feeling irritation in his nose and throat even though he was wearing a mask.
Pictures showed a muddy pool of water inside the crater.
Peruvian Nuclear Energy Institute engineer Renan Ramirez said a team of scientists found no radiation at the crash site and confirmed that the crater was not created by a fallen satellite.
"If it had been the case (a satellite crash), the strike would have let out radiation and contaminated the area," he said.
The illnesses that struck the local population may have been caused by sulfur, arsenic or other toxins that may have melted in the extreme heat produced by the meteorite strike, Ramirez said.
"It is a conventional meteorite that, when it struck, produced gases by fusing with elements of the terrain," he said.
Quispe said about 200 sick villagers are being treated and that Carancas residents fear that they fear long-term side effects.
There is also "a lot of panic and fear because villagers are afraid that other space objects could fall," Quispe told AFP.
Carancas residents have also reported a change in behavior among cattle and sheep that they say have been "acting strangely and refuse to eat," the mayor said.
Police have cordoned off the crater.
The director of the health ministry in the Puno region, Jorge Lopez, said none of the patients was in serious condition but that they would have to undergo blood and neurological tests as a precaution in three to six months.
A medical facility was installed in Carancas to treat the patients, and "if necessary, some will be sent to hospitals in Puno," the nearest big city, he said.
Lopez said that despite wearing a mask while he approached the crater, the fumes irritated his nose and throat.