In a first-of-its-kind incident, two women sustained minor injuries as a mysterious fireball fell from the sky at Patola village near Chamunda temple, 19 km from Dharamsala town of Kangra district.
However, no other damage was reported in the district. The incident took place around 9.15am. Sushil Kumar, a resident of the area and eyewitness to the incident, said he suddenly saw an object like fireball of around 12 inches falling from the sky that split into several parts after hitting the ground.
“A fighter jet had passed through the sky just a moment before the fireball fell,” said Kumar.
The injured identified as Saroj, 32, and Arti, 21, were doing some household work when the fireball hit the surface and some of its parts fell on the two women after splitting.
Locals rushed the injured women to Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda, from where they were discharged after first aid.
“I was washing clothes with my neighbour near my house when I heard the sound of an aircraft passing by and a few moments after that a burning object fell near us. It fragmented into several small pieces and some of which fell on us,” Saroj said, adding that she and the girl accompanying her sustained burn injuries on arms and back.
The rumors of it being a meteorite started spreading soon after the incident. However, a team of the forensic expert from Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (RFSL), Dharamsala, which visited the area, has ruled out the theory.
“Our team visited the area and found some explosive material from the spot. However, the nature of the explosive could be ascertained only after proper analysis. The samples are being sent to State Forensic Science Laboratory at Junga in Shimla,” said Dr N Prakash Dubey of RFSL.
Dr Dubey said there was an army firing range in the area, therefore possibility of it being some kind of explosive that got misfired could not be ruled out.
He said grey ash and a burnt piece of rubber like material were found on four spots and the forensic team has collected them as physical evidences.
“However, it is difficult to say what exactly it was,” Dr Dubey said, adding that it could also be some kind of fuel used in fighter jets.
“However, it definitely wasn't a meteorite or a natural object,” he added.
Meanwhile, superintendent of police, Kangra, Balbir Thakur said a case had been registered.
“We are investigating the case. According to our knowledge, some army exercise is going on near Pathankot and our apprehension is that it could be some explosive used by them. It could have fallen from some aircraft as several fighter jets pass through the area every day,” said Thakur.
“However, we can't say anything exactly and are collecting information about it,” he added.