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Mystery illness Linked To Meteorite Explosion
by Dirk Vander Ploeg


Mystery illness strikes after meteorite hits Peruvian village
This photo shows a crater that formed in the southern Peruvian town of Carangas, near the border with Bolivia, on September 16, 2007.Source. Photograph by Miguel Carrasco/La Razon/Reuters

Update: September 25, 2007 - Meteor Crash in Peru Caused Mysterious Illness

An object that struck the high plains of Peru on Saturday, causing a mysterious illness among local residents, was a rare kind of meteorite, scientists announced today.

A team of Peruvian researchers confirmed the origins of the object, which crashed near Lake Titicaca, after taking samples to a lab in the capital city of Lima.

Nearby residents who visited the impact crater complained of headaches and nausea, spurring speculation that the explosion was a subterranean geyser eruption or a release of noxious gas from decayed matter underground.

But the illness was the result of inhaling arsenic fumes, according to Luisa Macedo, a researcher for Peru's Mining, Metallurgy, and Geology Institute (INGEMMET), who visited the crash site.

The meteorite created the gases when the object's hot surface met an underground water supply tainted with arsenic, the scientists said.

Update continues: news.nationalgeographic.com



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