An explosion rocked the capital of Nicaragua on Monday, as a rock from space entered the atmosphere, striking the ground and leaving a sizable crater. Government officials believe the meteorite may actually have come from the asteroid that passed incredibly close to the Earth on Sunday.
Residents of the Nicaraguan capital of Managua reported a loud bang accompanied by an impact on Saturday night, according to a BBC News report. Experts believe that the explosion was caused by a meteorite touching down in a wooded area near the international airport and an air force base.
“We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave,” Jorge Santamaria told The Associated Press. Upon further examination, though, the facts point to a meteorite hitting Nicaragua.
“All the evidence we’ve confirmed at the site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event,” one scientist told the press, though. “We have the seismic register which coincides the time of impact, and the typical characteristic that [a meteorite] produces a cone in the place of the impact.”
The meteorite’s impact left a crater roughly 40 feet wide and about 20 feet deep. No one was injured in the impact, as the meteorite landed away from the population center.
Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, has more than one million inhabitants, and it is a densely populated area.
A local astronomer said he believed it was possible the meteorite which struck Nicaragua could have broken off from the 2014 RC asteroid that passed by Earth around the same time. That asteroid, roughly 60 feet in diameter, passed by the Earth at about one-tenth the distance from the Earth to the moon.
Had that asteroid become a meteorite – that is, had the entire object entered the Earth’s atmosphere and struck Nicaragua – the damage could would have been considerably greater. A similarly sized meteorite exploded over Cheyabinsk in Central Russia in 2013, damaging 7,200 buildings in the six surrounding cities and injuring some 1,500 people. The meteor’s explosion produced enough force to register a 2.7 on seismographs in the area.
The meteorite that struck Nicaragua appears to have been much smaller, and it directly connected with the ground, whereas the Russian meteorite exploded mid-air. Investigators at the scene are not yet certain whether the meteorite disintegrated upon impact or whether it had been blasted into the soil.
[Lead image via The Associated Press]