VILLAGERS in southern Peru have been struck by a mysterious illness after a meteorite made a fiery crash to Earth in their area. Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was a plane crashing near their remote village, in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia. Residents complained of headaches and vomiting brought on by a "strange odour," local health department official Jorge Lopez told Peruvian radio RPP. Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being taken to hospital, Mr Lopez said. Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene where the meteorite had left a crater 30m wide and 6m deep, said local official Marco Limache. "Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.