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Space Earth News

Meteorite Destroys Warehouse In Auckland, NZ 278

Posted by timothy
from the creative-excuse-for-the-late-night-set dept.
vik writes "According to local media, multiple eye witnesses are reporting that a meteorite crashed into a warehouse in Auckland, New Zealand last night, setting it on fire. The warehouse roof was destroyed but no nearby buildings were damaged and there was only one minor casualty — a man who happened to be inside the building at the time. The fire service have not yet made an official announcement."
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Meteorite Destroys Warehouse In Auckland, NZ

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  • Minor? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DerekJ212 (867265) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:08AM (#26108789)
    Minor injury... sure.
    But minor casualty????
    • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Informative)

      by boarder8925 (714555) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yblirtneergeht'> on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:12AM (#26108809) Homepage
      While casualty is most often used to mean a death, it also refers to injury.
      • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Informative)

        by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:08AM (#26109037)

        Casualty does NOT refer to deaths. It refers to the number of military members removed from duty due to wounds. This includes fatalities AND injuries.

        • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:40AM (#26109173)
          Casualty: (n) person killed or injured in a war or accident. So, it's the people killed (and in American media often refers only to the dead) or injured. Not just due to war. It's inclusive of both. 'nough said?
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            How do you know this wasn't due to war? My first thought when I read this story was that is was from the bugs.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              My god, I didn't even think of bringing up Starship Troopers. (Damn good book made into terrible movie that has a very nice shower scene.)

              Once again, AC, your insight has enriched my life.
              • by Goaway (82658)

                A very good book about how democracy is horrible and corporeal punishment is awesome, indeed.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Tikkun (992269)

                  A very good book about how democracy is horrible and corporeal punishment is awesome, indeed.

                  Democracy *is* horrible, it's just that all of the alternatives are so much worse that it looks good by comparison.

            • by Teancum (67324)

              You mean that a missile from an American warship went wild and destroyed the warehouse? Now that would be too good.

          • by Alomex (148003)

            in American media often refers only to the dead

            Actually, a while back I was reading Pentagon reports from Vietnam battles, and the numbers of casualties were not making any sense, until it became clear that by "casualties" they included both dead and injured.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by uberjack (1311219)
          Usually, minor means no more than 10 to 20 million killed, tops... depending on the breaks
        • So you don't have casualty wards in US hospitals then?

      • Re:Minor? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Panoptes (1041206) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @04:08AM (#26109475)
        Yes, 'casualty' can mean death or injury. The language point is that 'minor casualty' sounds wrong. In linguistic terms, these words don't usually go together (make a collocation), whereas 'minor' and 'injury' do.
        • The language point is that 'minor casualty' sounds wrong.

          Depends on who's hearing it.

          In linguistic terms, these words don't usually go together (make a collocation), whereas 'minor' and 'injury' do.

          Unless you're a medic, in which case they do go together quite a bit. Or a New Zealander, apparently.

      • Re:Minor? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jabithew (1340853) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @04:57AM (#26109627)

        Emergency wards on the NHS are often referred to as 'casualty'. This is not a comment on death rates in British hospitals.

    • by keeboo (724305)
      Either the person was underage, or we also have degrees of human life importance (let's say the guy was an undegraduate illegal alien).
    • It could be a causalty that is (was?) a minor. ;-) But the man actually survived.
    • by LurkerXXX (667952)
      Yes, a casualty. Websters: 1. Military. a. a member of the armed forces lost to service through death, wounds, sickness, capture, or because his or her whereabouts or condition cannot be determined. b. casualties, loss in numerical strength through any cause, as death, wounds, sickness, capture, or desertion.
      • So a minor casualty would be someone SLIGHTLY lost to service due to death or injury etc?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps it was a politician?

    • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Funny)

      by aaron alderman (1136207) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:24AM (#26109107) Homepage
      Thank god for the recession, there might have been more people in that warehouse!
    • No it's ok, it's was just Dick Cheney.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do insurance companies cover stuff like this?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:35AM (#26108915)

      Do insurance companies cover stuff like this?

      Depends entirely on the meteorite's composition, actually. For example, if you've got a nice nickel-iron ratio, you're probably good, but you're screwed if the thing had a high iron content. Insurance companies are usually very finicky about their falling extraterrestrial object damage coverage.

    • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:02AM (#26109013) Homepage

      They may, but in doing so could demand possession of the meteorite.

      The meteorite, depending on what's left of it and its composition, could easily be worth far more than the property damage.

      A quality meteorite is akin to money raining from the sky. If a nice big one ever hits my property, the first thing I'd do is secure it and shop the meteorite to perspective buyers.

      Ron

  • Minor? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kabuthunk (972557)

    How in the hell do you have a MINOR casualty? What, was he only a little bit dead?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Casualty \Cas"u*al*ty\, n.; pl. Casualties. [F. casualit['e],
      LL. casualitas.]Any injury of the body from accident; hence, death, or
      other misfortune, occasioned by an accident; as, an
      unhappy casualty.
      [1913 Webster]

      While it's often used in the context of war, which generally means large numbers of people completely dead, maybe this guy isn't?

      • by keeboo (724305)

        While it's often used in the context of war, which generally means large numbers of people completely dead, maybe this guy isn't?

        You mean the guy being half-dead, that caused by a meteorite?
        Sounds like a B-movie plot to me.

      • Wrong. It is always used (if used properly) to mean the number of dead AND number of injured combined.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Inominate (412637)

        It's NOT used to mean people who died.

        As has been said, a casualty in war refers to anyone who is hurt badly enough to have to be removed from duty. It includes both the dead and the injured. Even a broken leg is a casualty.

        Media sources like to use the word casualty because casualty counts are always much higher and more dramatic sounding than fatalities.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dominious (1077089)
        Quite funny how many posts try to explain that sentence in the summary while the answer is in TFA:

        A man was inside the building at the time. He was taken out and treated for a minor cut to his arm.

        Oh yes, this is /.

    • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Funny)

      by PPH (736903) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:46AM (#26108967)
      I'm not dead!
      'Ere. He says he's not dead.
      Yes he is.
      He isn't.
      I'm not!
      He will be soon. He's very ill.
      I'm getting better!
      You're not. You'll be stone dead in a few minutes.
    • Casualties can mean injuries as well as deaths, at least in this part of the world.
    • Re:Minor? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Maelwryth (982896) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:43AM (#26109189)
      "How in the hell do you have a MINOR casualty?"
      Under 18.
  • Riiiiight (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:30AM (#26108889)

    Some people were convinced the fire was caused by what may have been a meteorite, which was seen from various parts of the upper North Island streaking across the sky just after 10 o'clock.

    [citation needed]

  • Summary is wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pinckney (1098477) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:30AM (#26108891)
    Witness are not reporting having seen a meteorite strike the warehouse. Rather:

    Some people were convinced the fire was caused by what may have been a meteorite, which was seen from various parts of the upper North Island streaking across the sky just after 10 o';clock.
    Several callers claim the light in the sky was very bright, and it was described by some as a blinding flash. Others said it was trailing smoke.
    One man, Mike, says he saw the object crash with an exploding noise in the Ponsonby area, and reckons it could have started the fire.

    To summarize, a meteorite was seen, and may have even crashed in this area. That is all.

    • by RockMFR (1022315)
      You must be new here.
    • by dr_dank (472072)

      To summarize, a meteorite was seen, and may have even crashed in this area. That is all.

      Hiya slick, would you mind looking at the little red dot?

      POOF!

      What you saw was some swamp gas refracting the light off of Venus. Nothing more to see here.

    • by batquux (323697)

      It's not even that good. They saw what may have been a meteorite. And to be technical, it would have been a meteor when they saw it.

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @01:43AM (#26108955) Journal

    Workers compensation officer: How exactly did you get hurt?

    Man: God smote me down

    Boss: Don't mind Bob he's still a little shellshocked. He was struck by a meteorite. Or is that meteor. Was it a meteorite once it hit the roof or was it only a meteorite once it hit Bob?

    Workers compensation officer: Well then if he can't even tell what hit him, we can't pay him can we?

    Man: God smote me down, I tell you!

  • He'll be lucky if he finds what's left of it... I hear meteorite hunters will pay quite a bit for them...

  • by jesterzog (189797) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @02:52AM (#26109209) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, I'd wait for the New Zealand Fire Service report before taking this seriously. All that the article says is that a warehouse caught fire in Auckland (not too unusual), and that people in Auckland saw a meteor and reckoned it "landed" somewhere near there. One person thinks he heard it crash with an exploding noise.

    In short, some spectators are claiming a meteorite was involved in the fire, and the media's jumped on it because it makes the story more interesting. The NZ Herald seems to be the only news agency in New Zealand which I can find that's spinning the meteorite idea (actually the NZ Herald and Slashdot now that I've checked Google News). My guess is that it's just a coincidence that the fire started at roughly the same time.

    People frequently see meteors in the sky and assume they can tell where the landed, even though most don't even land. People are nearly always wrong, and get confused by the perspective and brightness and distance which makes it look as if bright meteors are much closer than they are, and are heading much more steeply into the ground than they are.

    Until the Fire Service comes out and states outright that it was a meteorite, and perhaps finds fragments, I'm not going to give the claim much credit. For a warehous fire in Auckland, it's more likely arson or an electrical fault.

  • Minor casualty? I guess he won't be missed? (Yes, I RTFA.)
  • Was on Mt. Eden... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nix_nz (1431251) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:10AM (#26109285)
    I was on top of Mt Eden watching the fireworks display. Shortly after it ended was chatting with my friend when the meteor shot overhead - it was larger than anything I've ever seen in my life, the sky flashed as if a band of magnesium had been lit and the trail that it left behind remained illuminated for several minutes. We were goofing off when my friend spotted the blaze to the north, the same direction that the meteor had been going in. It was seriously the biggest fire in a city that I've ever witnessed and it was crazy seeing all of the fire engines racing out to it. We jumped in the car and headed over there. Just had to follow the huge plume of smoke, even in the dark. It was pretty much burnt out by the time we got there, although they were still dousing it with water and smoke/steam continued to pour out. While it seems unlikely it was the meteor, it was INSANE to see that big a fire, just minutes after that incredible meteor. Now I'm just waiting for the next volcano to spawn here. It's gonna happen sooner or later... (This city is SO much better than Toronto). ;)
  • Total BS. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2008 @03:27AM (#26109339)

    I'm in Auckland, saw the meteor (which was awesome, BTW), and there's no way it hit anything or caused the fire. It was going totally in the wrong direction and it burned up well before the ground. In fact, it was probably so high that its trajectory would have taken it well out to sea.

    This is just a classic case of people finding spurious links between unrelated events.

    • Re:Total BS. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Deadstick (535032) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @11:47AM (#26111263)
      it burned up well before the ground.

      How would you know that? Meteors that are big enough to reach the ground are seldom glowing when they do; once the upper atmosphere has slowed them down, the long fall through the lower atmosphere cools them off. They hit the ground pretty hot, but almost never glowing.

      rj

  • by Nulukkhizdin (1086481) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @04:17AM (#26109503)

    ...they're often frozen on the surface when found right after the fall! It's a common myth that meteorites blazing hot. In reality, the molten surface of a meteorite has plenty of time to cool during the fall through cold atmosphere, and the interior of the meteorite remains very cold.

  • Auckland (Score:5, Funny)

    by robvangelder (472838) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @05:39AM (#26109745)

    On behalf of all New Zealanders living outside of Auckland, why couldn't the meteorite have been a little bigger?

  • Are they absolutely SURE it was a meteorite, and not another piece of Skylab? .....I smell a NASA CONSPIRACY!!!1!

  • by rtrifts (61627) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @06:06AM (#26109821) Homepage

    A meteor hits a warehouse...setting it on fire. This is the classic hypothetical example used when teaching the law of bailment in first year property class to law students.

    What kind of warehouse I wonder? Did they hold on to their own goods only - or those belonging to others?

    Every law student learns in first year property that a bailee of goods for hire is absolutely liable for them, even if the proverbial meteor falls from the sky and destroys them. That's the common law - and the over the top example literally used in the texts to make the point, too. And this happened in New Zealand - a common law country.

    Problem is, the warehouse, if it is holding goods belonging to others, probably isn't insured for this. The insurer will claim Act of God. (And if "Act of God" is to mean anything in an insurance contract, it probably means a meteor). The warehouse owner will say "these goods not destroyed by a meteor - they were destroyed by fire, and we're insured for that".

    The insurer will say "hell no; we're not paying." And off to court this will go.

    Were the goods destroyed by a fire - or by a meteor? Because either way, the bailee is on the hook.

    The resulting litigation answering that question will go down in the history books - and be subsequently learned by every law student in the common law world in their second month of law school - for the next several centuries.

    • by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @09:58AM (#26110719)

      Interesting. Similar lawsuits happened in the U.S. (not necessarily a common-law country, depends on what law we're written since the split) because of hurricane Katrina.

      People's homes would have water damage, but the insurance companies wouldn't pay because the people didn't have flood insurance. However, many of these people's homes didn't flood; the water got in because the roof had been torn off (or just windows had been broken) by the hurricane. And the people's insurance did cover wind damage.

      In other words, flooding (uninsured loss) was directly caused by wind (insured loss), so does insurance pay? After lawsuits, the answer here was yes.

  • If a large meteor landed in an urban area, it will be captured on multiple videos (surveillance cameras, plus the odd person filming something at the time, and even people quick enough to whip out their cell phones). Pretty much every recent meteor fall has had such documentary evidence; each video found narrows down the trajectory and frequently allows more to be found, by going to the right area and asking.

    The absence of such multiply interlocking independent streams of evidence is one reason why I find r

    • by mbone (558574) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @07:38AM (#26110135)

      A poster upstream says that they were on "Mt Eden watching the fireworks display."

      I bet some people were videoing that fireworks display and left their cameras on. They would be a good start to determining the meteors trajectory.

      Frequently these people won't even know that they recorded the meteor's passing (it isn't what they were intending to capture, and they may not look at the tape past the end of the fireworks). But, you can bet that someone on Mt Eden recorded its passing. The local college astronomy department or one of the NZ astronomy clubs should issue a call for people watching the fireworks to search their tapes. If there were any major sporting events at the time, that would also be a useful source.

      Remember, the camera doesn't have to be pointed at the sky. Capturing the time of the light flash, or the direction people are pointing, or the reflection of the meteor in windows or car hoods (bonnets) can be just as useful.

      • by mbone (558574)

        One last thing -

        Any major fall is highly likely to have an associated debris field - smaller pieces strewn along the meteor's track. If this really landed in a an urban area, it is a good bet that there are pieces of the meteor spread around, on people's cars or in their back yards.

        As a by the way, I have asked some people at the U Auckland to look into trying to collect video information on the meteor.

  • by MerlTurkin (598333) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @10:48AM (#26110949)
    Meteorites cool off way before hitting the ground. They cool off during what is known as "Dark Flight". No meteorite lands hot. Period. Now maybe it struck something which then exploded but I highly doubt this story.
  • Because last night in NJ my wife spotted 3 and I spotted 1 meteorites streaking in front of us on the garden state parkway at around 12:15 am ish. They where big for meteorites, since usually with the little stuff I am COMPLETELY blind and miss them, but these lasted a good 2-3 seconds and where big enough to see over the lights of Newark/NYC/Hoboken.
  • by Lazarian (906722) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @12:32PM (#26111579)
    Back in the 90's, a meteorite nailed a parked car in New York. It flew between two closely spaced apartment buildings and hit the trunk of a lady's car.

    http://uregina.ca/~astro/mb_5.html [uregina.ca]

    Haven't a clue as to what an insurance company would make of something like that...

  • by wfolta (603698) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @12:57PM (#26111735)

    ... and won millions of dollars, with which he bought the warehouse where he used to work. He got these numbers from a friend he met in a "local institution".

    He's going to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow. ;-)

  • by Eil (82413) on Sunday December 14, 2008 @05:24PM (#26113677) Homepage Journal

    I'm sorry, but I'd expect an article of this calibre out of an 9th-grade journalism class, not a newspaper that calls itself The Herald. For entertainment purposes, let's take a closer look at this story, shall we?

    A spectacular fire stopped traffic and drew crowds of onlookers in Auckland last night.

    Fair enough. Big fires are kinda neat.

    The blaze broke out in a warehouse on the intersection of Ponsonby Road and McKelvie Street and eight appliances and two aerial appliances were used to quell it.

    Wait, what? Appliances? Were they throwing dishwashers and blenders at it?

    Firefighters were dampening down hotspots but by 11.30 the fire was out.

    It's unclear from this sentence just when the firefighters were dampening down hotspots. Before the fire? After? A week later?

    A man was inside the building at the time. He was taken out and treated for a minor cut to his arm.

    Here's where the real questions start. What what he doing in the building? Was he supposed to be there? How did he get the cut? Did he see/hear how the fire broke out? Isn't the whole point of journalism to answer questions? I would love to see an article that talks about why the author was unable to obtain the most basic facts about the story. Was the writer prevented from talking to the firefighters and police? Okay, that's a good reason but since it's not in the article I have to assume that the writer was just being lazy.

    And by the way, what happened to the good old days when every article came with a by-line so you know who wrote it? You never see those any more unless the writer is gunning for a Pulitzer in some long, drawn-out investigative piece.

    No nearby buildings were damaged, but the warehouse roof collapsed in the centre. The Fire Service is not saying yet whether it suspects the blaze was suspicious.

    "...suspects the blaze was suspicious"? Oh now he/she isn't even trying.

    Some people were convinced the fire was caused by what may have been a meteorite, which was seen from various parts of the upper North Island streaking across the sky just after 10 o';clock.

    Several callers claim the light in the sky was very bright, and it was described by some as a blinding flash. Others said it was trailing smoke.

    One man, Mike, says he saw the object crash with an exploding noise in the Ponsonby area, and reckons it could have started the fire.

    And now we veer headlong into the bizarre. As others have pointed out, meteors are not nearly hot enough to start a fire by the time they reach the ground so unless the place was storing flammable materials, a meteor did not start this fire regardless of whatever random passers-by thought they witnessed. (It should be noted that their stories are contradictory, so it's impossible to tell which, if any of them, actually saw or heard the meteor. People routinely make up stories and observations to make their own lives seem more interesting or important, especially in relation to some semi-major happening nearby.)

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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