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Small Meteorite Hits Nicaragua, Government Scientists Say

Image: An impact crater made by a small meteorite in a wooded area near Managua's international airport and an air force base.
In this photo provided by the Nicaraguan Army shows a crater in a wooded area near Managua's international airport and an air force base. Nicaraguan government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said Sunday that a loud boom heard overnight by residents of the capital was a "relatively small" meteorite that "appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth." Nicaraguan Army via AP

A mysterious late-night blast in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua that left a crater 40 feet wide was most likely caused by a meteorite, government scientists said on Sunday.

The loud explosion occurred around 11 p.m. on Saturday on the outskirts of Managua near the airport, Wilfried Strauch from the Nicaraguan Institute of Earth Studies said in an interview on a government TV channel. No one was injured.

Meteorite Hits Nicaragua as Major Asteroid Narrowly Misses Earth 0:15

Strauch said that Nicaragua is asking the United States for expert help to investigate the event, which was picked up by seismic sensors.

"All the evidence that we've confirmed on-site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event," said Jose Millan, also from the Nicaraguan Institute of Earth Studies.

Strauch said they had not been able to determine the composition of the supposed meteorite as they were not sure whether it had disintegrated on hitting ground or if it remained buried.

Nicaragua has more than 20 volcanoes and is regularly shaken by earthquakes, so many locals initially thought a quake caused the loud bang.

— Reuters

Update for 2:50 p.m. ET Sept. 9: NASA researchers and other experts have questioned whether the crater was indeed caused by a meteorite. Here's the follow-up.