Confirmed meteorite fall (~ 15.152 kg, H5, S2) on 22 July 2019 near Kauriahī (कौरिअही) village, Mahādēvā (महादेवा) village area, Kariot panchayat, Laukahī (लौकही) Block, Madhubanī District, Bihar, India at ~2:30 p.m. IST (~09:30 UTC)

The meteorite in Patna on 23 July 2019. Photo: Bihar Post

Last update: 1 June 2020

On 22 Juli 2019 at around ~09:30 UTC (~2.30 p.m. IST) a meteorite of about 15.152 kg (H5, S2, 27x18x18 cm) was witnessed to fall into the paddy field (near a crossing) of farm owner Ram Ēkabāla Mandal ( राम एकबाल मंडल ) near the village Kauriahī ( कौरिअही ), in the Mahādēvā ( महादेवा ) village area of the Kariot panchayat in the Laukahī ( लौकही ) block in the northern Madhubani (मधुबनी ) district of the state Bihar in northern India, close to the border to Nepal. The exact fall site was at this location: 26°27’26.98″N, 86°35’01.54″E.

Local farmers had been working on the rice fields when they suddenly heard a loud detonation boom and saw a long dust trail in the sky, apparently coming from a north-eastern direction. It wasn’t raining when this incident took place. Before the impact of the meteorite the farmers heard a sound they compared to a low flying helicopter. The actual impact sound was described as a sound a bomb would have made. Some locals near the fall site report having heard two impact sounds. The locals saw a big splash in the paddy field and the subsequent vapour hanging in the air for a short time. Furthermore, they report having smelled a gunpowder-like odour. The laborers who were working in the fields ran away because they were afraid of the meteoroid’s detonation sound, which could be heard in an area of about 5 km around the fall location. The farmers (Rajkumar Prasad, Bihari Yadav and Raj Kumar Khatawe) noticed that something had fallen into a paddy field next to a mud path. Later, about an hour after the fall, they came back and a young farmer from Kauriahī ( कौरिअही )‬, called Shravan Yadav ( श्रवण यादव ), started digging to retrieve what had fallen into the paddy field. Pradeep Kumar ( प्रदीप कुमार) and Subhash Kumar (सुभाष कुमार) helped him dig. First, they built a shallow oval dam around the impact location so that the approx. 12 centimeter deep water was removed from the fall location and the round 31 centimeter wide impact hole in the soil could be seen. Then the hole was dug out and widened. Finally at a depth of about 107 centimeters the mud-covered meteorite was discovered in the drenched soil, taken out and cleaned with water. The meteorite was apparently still a bit warm when touched. At this time many primarily young locals were present at the fall side witnessing the excavation of the meteorite.

As soon as information about this unusual incident became known, a crowd of people from the surrounding villages arrived at the fall location to see the stone. Some locals put the stone under a peepal tree and started worshipping it since they perceived it as a miracle of God Shiva. They offered leaves of the bael tree (belpatra), blossoming flowers and milk to the stone. Then one of the locals informed the authorities. The Laukahī police station officer Arvind Kumar, district officer Tripurari Shrivastav, and Laukahī Block head Varun Kumar reached the fall location and decided to confiscate the stone to take it to the police station, apparently against the will of the locals. Later on Monday night, on the order of the Madhubani district magistrate (DM) Sri Shirsat Kapil Ashok, the landlord took the meteorite to the District Treasury.

At a press conference on 23 July the Madhubani District Magistrate (DM) Shirsat Kapil Ashok presented the meteorite and said that it had been kept at the District Treasury to make sure that it could be analysed later. In the evening of 23 July the meteorite was transferred to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s official residence in Patna where he saw and touched it in his chamber of assembly in front of journalists. Then the meteorite was kept in the Bihar museum in Patna and it was planned to send it, or a fragment of it, to the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Navrangpura, Ahmedabad for analysis. On 25 July Shri Navneet Ranjan and Shri Udhipta Kar (Assistant geologists of the Geological Survey, State Unit, Bihar, Patna) reached Madhubani to get the required information about the meteorite from DM Shirsat Kapil Ashok. On 25-26 July they visited the fall site to measure the exact GPS coordinates of the fall location and the depth at which the meteorite was found. Furthermore, they talked to local people who had witnessed the fall.

On 14 August 2019 the meteorite was officially presented as an exhibit in the Bihar Museum by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The three farmers (Rājakumāra Prasāda (राजकुमार प्रसाद), Bihārī Yādava (बिहारी यादव) and Rājakumāra Khatavē (राजकुमार खतवे)) who witnessed the meteorite fall were officially honoured. The meteorite was classified by PRL’s D. K. Panda and A. D. Shukla and officially registered as witnessed fall Mahadeva in the Meteoritical Bulletin database on 31 May 2020.

The exact fall location in the paddy field southwest of Kauriahi.

The recovery of the meteorite in the paddy field

The young farmers are removing the water inside the oval dam within the paddy field. Photo: unknown

The round impact hole in the soil became visible after the removal of the water. Photo: unknown

The farmers next to the still water-filled oval hole which they dug at the spot where the round impact hole of the meteorite used to be. Photo: unknown

One of the finders inside the dug-out hole holding the meteorite at a depth of about 1.1 meters just before lifting it out of the hole to hand it to a friend outside the hole.

The mud-covered meteorite just after its recovery from the dug-out hole.

The farmer who took the meteorite out of the soil holding the partly cleaned meteorite. Photo: unknown

Another farmer who helped digging out the meteorite. Photo: unknown

The farmer who took the meteorite out of the soil holding the partly cleaned meteorite inside the village. Photo: unknown

Photo: unknown

The meteorite inside the village being presented to the local population. A round magnet is sticking on it. Photo: unknown

The meteorite being presented to the locals in the village. Photo: unknown

The meteorite being presented to the locals in the village. Photo: unknown

The meteorite placed in front of a pal-tree by locals so that some locals could worship it by offering leaves of the bael tree (belpatra), blossoming flowers and milk to it. Photo: unknown

The dam containing the dug-out hole at the impact side next to a mud-path inside the paddy field has been flooded again and marked with branches by 25 July 2019. Photo: unknown

The meteorite on display at the Bihar Museum on 14 August 2019. Photo: abnews

Scientific literature

A Note on Suspected Meteorite fall in Kuriyahi village Laukahi Block, Madhubani District, Bihar
by State Unit Bihar, GSI, Patna (July 2019)

Local and social media coverage

Television report including interviews with eye-witnesses including Rājakumāra Prasāda (राजकुमार प्रसाद), Bihārī Yādava (बिहारी यादव) and Rājakumāra Khatavē (राजकुमार खतवे) at the fall location. Video: a Madhubani news channel

Interview with eye-witnesses at the fall location. Video: Bihar TV

Presenting the meteorite to the locals. Video: unknown