Parts of German satellite ROSAT are expected to have landed somewhere in eastern Sichuan, claimed a West China City Daily microblogger.
But Andreas Schuetz, spokesman for the German Aerospace Center, refuted speculations about the exact crash site, as did Jonathan McDowell of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge.
Although the potential crash corridor of the satellite's debris is flanked by Chengdu and Chongqing, it is seeming less and less likely that the debris crashed into a populated region of Sichuan, says McDowell, who concluded to the Associated Press that "if it had come down over a populated area there probably would be reports by now":
Most parts of the minivan-sized ROSAT research satellite were expected to burn up as they hit the atmosphere at speeds up to 280 mph (450 kph), but up to 30 fragments weighing a total of 1.87 tons (1.7 metric tons) could have crashed, the German Aerospace Center said.
The satellite used to circle the planet in about 90 minutes, and it may have traveled several thousand kilometers (miles) during its re-entry, rendering exact predictions of where it crashed difficult.
German space agency spokesman Andreas Schuetz said a falling satellite also can change its flight pattern or even its direction once it sinks to within 90 miles (150 kilometers) above the Earth.
The US Air Force Space Surveillance Spacetrack gives ROSAT's re-entry coordinates as 7° N/90° E Southwest of the Andaman Island and re-entry into the earth's orbit between 0145 GMT to 0215 (between 9:45 and 10:15 a.m. Beijing time) and would have taken no more than 15 minutes to hit the ground.
Germany's heaviest satellite ROSAT (short for Roentgen Satellite) was launched in 1990 to measure X-rays emitted by neutron stars. The spacecraft contained a large mirror made of a heat-resistant glass-ceramic called Zerador, parts of which could could have crashed into Earth.
Since Sputnik, 6,000 satellites with a total weight of 27,000 tons have been sent into orbit and re-entered the earth's atmosphere, so far with no casualties reported.
Potential casualties and damages are regulated under Space law and most likely are covered by your insurance. It is possible that just like NASA's latest satellite crash, no parts of ROSAT can be localized, but in the rare chance that you do come across debris, don't touch it as the materials might be burning hot and in any case are still property of Germany.