The fireball of June 25, 1997
At crack of dawn on June 25 it seemed that this was the beginning of a day like every other day for the picturesque fishermen village of Santa Vitoria do Palmar at the south eastern tip of Brazil. And yet the stage was already set for a unique natural spectacle which was just about to happen. The main act was already approaching with the speed of some 40,000 miles per hour in the form of a frozen chunk of rock the size of a refrigerator.
All of a sudden at 07:00 am a bright light appeared in the clear northern sky and continued in a high speed trajectory along the coast and down towards the village. The descent of the fireball blazing in blue and green was marked by the coal black smoke trail that followed it. Accompanied by a series of loud thunder claps the fiery intruder ended its journey not far from the outskirts of the village.
Hundreds of eye witnesses in Santa Vitoria do Palmar and on the far side of the border to Uruguay in the city of Chui, followed spellbound the spectacular descent. 19 year old Jacson Costa de Souza was alarmed by a wheezing sound that continued for a couple of seconds until suddenly a thundering sonic boom made the walls of his home tremble. Like him many inhabitants of Santa Vitoria were scared up by a series of thunderstrucks and a loud final explosion which rocked the foundations of their homes.
Minutes after the Event, local radio stations were flooded with calls of terrified eyewitnesses who reported their experiences under the immediate impression of the event. Radio stations based in Uruguay reported that the sound of the explosion was heard as far as Rocha, which is roughly 120 km south of Chui. A number of eye witnesses who had followed the descent from north of Santa Vitoria agreed that the impact had occurred in an area named “Chácara dos Pinhos”. However with eyewitness reports still coming in it soon became clear that “Chácara dos Pinhos” was just close to the trajectory and that the object had continued beyond this point. All the accounts taken together suggested that the impact, if one had occurred, must have taken place in the area between the harbour of Santa Vitoria do Palmar and the northern outskirts of Chui.