Сотрудник перуанского института ядерной энергии Ренан Рамирес (Renan Ramirez) заявил, что группа экспертов, исследовавшая появившийся 15 сентября кратер, не нашла в нем следов радиации, и предположил, что болезнь населения вызвана соединениями серы и мышьяка, попавшими в воздух после удара, сообщает AFP.
Отсутствие радиации исключает рассматривавшуюся ранее гипотезу о том, что упал искусственный спутник Земли. Рамирес считает, что сильнейший удар, сопровождавшийся значительным повышением температуры, стал причиной того, что из почвы попали в воздух ядовитые вещества: скорее всего, соединения серы или мышьяка.
Специалист по метеоритам Урсула Марвин (Ursula Marvin), не оспаривая этого предположения, сомневается, что удар был произведен именно метеоритом. По словам Марвин, воздействие метеорита слишком поверхностно, оно не могло бы "выбить" столько газов из почвы, сообщает AP.
Испарения непосредственно около кратера настолько сильны, что один из исследователей почувствовал жжение в слизистых оболочках носа и рта, несмотря на защитную маску. Полиция огородила кратер, на всякий случай власти распорядились не пускать к нему любопытных.
В деревне Каранкас оборудован специальный пункт медицинской помощи, куда обратилось уже более двухсот человек. По словам врачей, состояние пациентов не вызывает опасений, однако в ближайшие несколько месяцев из соображений предосторожности им придется пройти несколько дополнительных проверок. Жители жалуются также на состояние скота, который ведет себя странно и не ест.
Пробы, взятые учеными, отправлены на анализ. Заключение специалистов из института геофизики ожидается в четверг, 20 сентября.
Ссылки по теме
- Peru Links Illness to Supposed Meteorite - AP, 19.07.07
- Peruvian scientists probe fumes from meteorite crater - AFP, 19.07.07
Experts Confirm Meteorite Crash in Peru
LIMA, Peru (AP) — A fiery meteorite crashed into southern Peru over the weekend, experts confirmed on Wednesday. But they were still puzzling over claims that it gave off fumes that sickened 200 people.
Local residents told reporters that a fiery ball fell from the sky and smashed into the desolate Andean plain near the Bolivian border Saturday morning.
Jose Mechare, a scientist with Peru's Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute, said a geologist had confirmed that it was a "rocky meteorite," based on the fragments analyzed.
He said water in the meteorite's muddy crater boiled for maybe 10 minutes from the heat and could have given off a vapor that sickened people, and scientists were taking water samples.
"We are not completely certain that there was no contamination," Mechare said.
Jorge Lopez, director of the health department in the state where the meteorite crashed, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that 200 people suffered headaches, nausea and respiratory problems caused by "toxic" fumes emanating from the crater, which is some 65 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
But a team of doctors who reached the isolated site said Wednesday they found no evidence the meteorite had sickened people.
A crater is seen in Carangas, Puno, Peru, Monday, Sept. 17, 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 Razon, Miguel Carrasco)
Doctors told an Associated Press Television News cameraman at the site that they had found no sign of radioactive contamination among families living nearby. But they said they had taken samples of blood, urine and hair to analyze.
Peasants living near the crater said they had smelled a sulfurous odor for at least an hour after the meteorite struck and that it had provoked upset stomachs and headaches.
But Jose Isisuka, a geologist for the institute who was studying the crater, said he doubted the reports of a sulfurous smell.
Modesto Montoya, a member of the medical team, was quoted by Lima daily El Comercio as saying fear may have provoked psychosomatic ailments.
"When a meteorite falls, it produces horrid sounds when it makes contact with the atmosphere," he told the paper. "It is as if a giant rock is being sanded. Those sounds could have frightened them."
Justina Limache, 74, told El Comercio that when she heard the thunderous roar from the sky, she abandoned her flock of alpacas and ran to her small home with her 8-year-old granddaughter. She said that after the meteorite struck, small rocks rained down on the roof of her house for several minutes and she feared the house was going to collapse.
Meteor expert Ursula Marvin said that if people were sickened, "it wouldn't be the meteorite itself, but the dust it raises."
A meteorite "wouldn't get much gas out of the earth," said Marvin, who has studied the objects since 1961 at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Massachusetts. "It's a very superficial thing."
Three geologists from Peru's Geophysics Institute are expected to report on the incident on Thursday.
Hernando Tavera, a geophysicist at the institute, said similar cases were reported in 2002 and 2004 elsewhere in southern Peru but were never confirmed as meteorites.
Associated Press writer Edison Lopez contributed to this report from Lima, Peru.
Peruvian scientists probe fumes from meteorite crater
LIMA (AFP) — 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.
People in southern Peru gaze at a crater made apparently by a meteorite in the department of Puno. About 200 villagers have fallen ill from mysterious gases that spewed from a crater after a meteorite crashed in southeastern Peru, but no radiation has been detected, officials and scientists said Tuesday.