Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Schoolboy survives direct hit by meteorite travelling at 30,000mph

First on Mail Online

By Eddie Wrenn
Last updated at 12:47 AM on 14th June 2009

The odds of it happening are astronomical, but not impossible, as one schoolboy found out when he was struck by a passing meteorite.

The rock flew down from space at speeds of 30,000mph, and grazed past 14-year-old Gerrit Blank as he made his way to school.

The meteorite continued on before ending its billion-year intergalactic journey on the pavement, leaving a smoking, foot-wide crater.

Gerrit was left with a scar on his hand, making him one of only a handful of people to have been struck directly by a meteorite.

The student, from Essen, Germany, said: 'At first I just saw a large ball of light, and then I suddenly felt a pain in my hand.

'Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang like a crash of thunder.'

The rock would originally have been a lot larger, but would have burned up in the atmosphere as it fell to Earth. Most 'shooting stars' burn up completely before they hit the ground.

Experts are now examining the pea-sized meteorite to discover its origins. Most meteorites date back to the formation of the solar system 4.55billion years ago.

The odds of being hit by a meteorite are said to be one in a 100million. There is not a confirmed fatality from a direct hit before, although there are many reported cases of animals being killed by an impact.

One woman in Alabama, America, was injured as she lay asleep in bed in 1954. The 4kg meteorite struck her after smashing through her roof.

A monk is said to have been killed by a meteorite in Milan in 1650 and two sailors in Sweden were reportedly killed by one while sailing in 1674.

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