Residents of a city in southern Argentina got a scare when a series of powerful explosions shook homes and buildings, but the cause turned out to be a natural wonder: a meteor disintegrating overhead.
It was an ordinary Wednesday afternoon in General Roca, a city of 85,000 people, when suddenly a series of loud blasts caused buildings to shake and windows to rattle.
“Everything trembled,” said Martin Soria, the local mayor.
Police, firefighters and emergency workers rushed to the scene, but found no evidence of a bomb, earthquake or calamity.
Finally, scientists pieced together the reason: A meteor had entered the Earth’s atmosphere some 10,000 metres (33,000 feet) overhead, traveling at 1,500 miles per hour.
“It took everyone by surprise because it entered the atmosphere over an inhabited area. If it had fallen over the desert, the sea, Antarctica, we would never have known,” said astronomer Roberto Figueroa, head of the nearby Neuquen observatory.
He estimated Wednesday’s meteor measured about 12 metres in diameter before breaking into three fragments.
I do sorta doubt that it was 12 metres in diameter. But, to take them at their word.
It was just 900 tonnes of rock moving at 1,500 mph. Phew, nowt to worry about then.