Space & Astronomy
Earliest case of 'death by meteorite' revealed
By T.K. Randall
April 29, 2020 · 13 comments
You wouldn't want to be hit by one of these. Image Credit: YouTube / Central Michigan University
Researchers have discovered official records stating that a man in Iraq was killed by a meteorite back in 1888.
When it comes to unlikely ways to die, being hit by a falling meteorite must come close to the top of the list; one study published in 2014 concluded that the chances of being killed by a meteorite are around 1 in 1,600,000 - meaning that you are more than twice as likely to be struck by lightning.
According to recently unearthed records from the Turkish state archives however, such an unlikely demise actually did befall one extremely unfortunate individual over 130 years ago.
The documents describe how a meteorite fell to Earth on August 22nd, 1888 and smacked into the side of a hill in what is now modern day Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.
One man was struck and killed, while a second was also severely injured and ended up paralyzed.
The records indicate that the lethal space rock was one of several to have fallen within a ten-minute period and that witnesses in a nearby city had also seen a 'fireball' hurtling down from the sky.
The event was even said to have been reported to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire - Abdul Hamid II.
While the researchers are still seeking additional documents pertaining to the incident, it is believed that this is the earliest known record of a person being struck and killed by a meteorite.
"Almost every single event was recorded in the archives," lead author Ozan Unsalan from Istanbul University told Space.com
. "I mean, if you sneeze, it was recorded somehow."
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