Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Peru: Meteorite Deemed a Latent Danger

SOURCE: EFE News Agency
Date: 09.18.07

PERU: Meteorite Deemed a "Latent Danger"

The meteorite that fell in Peru on Saturday is causing respiratory problems and headaches.

Lima (EFE) - The fumes prodcued by a meteorite that fell last Saturday in the Peruvian region of Puno on the Bolivian border has been a source of headaches and respiratory ailments among local residents, accoridng to official sources.

"There are fumes of a substance that we cannot determine, perhaps sulfur or ammonia," said Jorge Lopez, Health Director for the Puno area, to EFE, admitting that there is the "latent danger" that further health woes may be visited upon the locals.

Lopez explained that a team of seven doctors from Peru's Ministerio de Salud has been sent to the area to deal with the settlers. They will also take soil and water samples to ascertain the nature of the substance in question and the degree of contamination.

The meteorite fell last Saturday in the locality of Carancas, some 1300 km southeast of Lima, and which is the home to some 500 families. It produced a crater that measured 30 meters in diameter and 6 meters deep.

Given its composition and characteristics, Bolivian scientists maintain that the meteorite is harmless, according to the Bolivian newspaper "La Razon"

"We have received a sample of highly magnetic dust, which confirms the initial impression that [the object] is a meteorite. It also has a high iron content, which means that it could indeed be a meteorite," said researcher Gonzalo Pereira, quoted by the neighboring country's newspaper.

(Translation (c) 2007 S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Luz Guzman and Ana Torres)