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Nagpur: It's official now. The fire balls seen by some people in Akola district and city on Tuesday were meteorite showers spread over an area of over 200km. They travelled in eastern direction and some fell in Katol tehsil of Nagpur district. It is the first time that meteorite shower has been recorded in Vidarbha. A GSI team will be surveying the entire area where people had witnessed fire balls and explosion like sound in a day or two for more evidence.

However, the scientific reason of the sound remains unexplained. Speculations are that the sound could be the cumulative effect of different pieces of a large number of meteorites falling over a vast area or from impact of a single larger that fell in an uninhabited area like deep forest or river beds. The scientists are also not sure of any correlation, if any, between the meteorites falling and tremors of 2.1 Richter scale recorded around the same time. They said a tremor caused by impact of a huge meteorite could not be ruled out but the two events happening together could also be a coincidence.

A team of geologists led by the deputy director general (DDG) of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) Central region in city Binod Kumar has collected small meteorite pieces from different locations in and around Katol town on Wednesday evening. "We got a phone call from Katol at around 5pm on Wednesday about some stone like objects fallen at different places. I rushed to the spot with four geologists and collected the pieces. All the pieces are meteorites," said Kumar.

The DDG said many people had heard the sound. GSI team confirmed the facts in presence of the Katol tehsildar. Pieces from four different locations at Laxmi Nagar, IUDP Layout, Khutamba road and IUDP layout towards Nagpur road which were collected respectively by the town residents Nathoji Ramakrishna Charde, Govinda Muralidhar Mahajan, Javed Razzak Shaikh and Pundlik Kashiram Shivarkar. "The pieces are in our possession. We will send them to our head office at Kolkata where their exact chemical and physical analysis would be done and their age determined using radioisotope method," said Kumar.

Director of petrology department G Suresh said all the pieces were from a 'stony meteorite' as they were very rich in silicate minerals and minute quantities of iron and nickel. "The black surface is because of burning effect as they entered the earth's atmosphere," he said. The sample from Lakshmi Nagar is biggest (9.5X9X5.5cm) and weighs 673.5 gms.

Geologist S H Wankhede said, "all samples when collected were cold. They contain some nodules of iron and nickel. This piece caused an impact on the ground and created a void of 8X6X10 cm," he said. Third geologist Mohammed Shareef said that third piece recovered from agricultural field on Khutamba road fell on a galvanized iron ceiling and pierced it.

The Raman Science Centre project coordinator Shrikant Pathak clarified that meteorites sometimes caused a sound when they blast in air or big pieces strike with each other. Sound also occurred in case of a cracking of a cavity inside a meteorite piece. Big sounds occur only when big pieces hit earth. "But it is difficult to specify the reason for sound unless we find a much bigger piece of meteorite somewhere else in the region," he said.