Fri, 30 Apr 2010 05:51 UTC
Forensics experts from the police and National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan) investigators are combing the site, with the latter saying that while there was no conclusive proof the damage was caused by a meteorite, it was the most likely explanation.
Police ruled out earlier speculation that the incident was a gas canister exploding.
One house was moderate damage and two adjoining properties suffered minor damage after blast on Jalan Delima II. There were no reported casualties.
Lapan researcher Abdurrahman said no fragments of the projectile had been found but the deep crater in the floor of the house, the residual heat footprint and melted items pointed to a meteorite.
"I suspect the object impacted at high velocity, hit the floor, bounced back and hit the ceiling, then fell back down," he said. "It's extremely difficult to recover the fragments, what with the rubble and broken glass, and it being so dark in here."
Abdurrahman said any suspected meteorite fragment would be taken back to Lapan's headquarters in Bandung for analysis.
Researcher Evan Irawan Akbar, from the Bosscha Observatory in Lembang, Bandung, said if the projectile was a meteorite it warranted further investigation.
"This kind of incident is extremely rare in Indonesia," he said. "Usually an object that falls to earth is burned up in the atmosphere before reaching land."
The incident comes on the heels of the Lyrid meteor shower, which ended on Monday, but Evan ruled out any connection between the two.
"It could, however, be part of the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which peaks on May 7 and 8," he said.
The phenomenon often begins in late April.
"Another possibility is that this wasn't a meteorite at all, but man-made space debris like a satellite," Evan said.
Police, meanwhile, are pursuing their own line of investigation. Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said the Densus 88 counterterrorism squad had been called in to search for possible traces of explosives.
The homes of Sunarti, Sudarmojo and Marzuki were damaged in the incident, with Sudarmojo's house taking the brunt of the impact. It blasted a hole in the second floor of the house, sending furniture falling to the first floor, and tore big holes in the walls.
Last October, a mysterious explosion in Bone, South Sulawesi, was determined to have been a meteorite that hit the Earth's atmosphere at a mind-boggling 20.3 kilometers per second.
According to Thomas Djamaluddin, head of atmospheric sciences and chief of astronomy research at Lapan, the blast released energy equal to about 50 kilotons of TNT, more than three times the force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, near the end of World War II.
A 9-year-old girl suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after hearing the explosion, and shock waves damaged homes in Bone's Panyula village.