In 1888, multiple documents discovered in the General Directorate of State Archives of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey stated a falling shooting star crashed into Earth, killing one man and paralysing a woman. The event happened in what is now Sulaymaniyah in Iraq, and according to researchers, it is the first credible evidence a human has been killed by a fireball.
Meteors and meteorites hit Earth regularly, with NASA stating up to 17 a day could crash into our planet on average.
However, most of these burn up in the atmosphere, which is how we see shooting stars.
But on this occasion at least, one meteorite made it through the atmosphere and down to land, where it struck a man and killed him instantly, according to the Turkish researchers.
Although the meteorite which caused the death has not been recovered, the original document states on August 22, 1888, at about 8.30pm local time, a large fireball was seen in the sky.
Shortly after, meteorites began to fall “like rain” from the sky for 10 minutes onto a small village.
One meteorite managed to make its way to the ground, where it killed a man and paralysed a woman.
The document also said there was damage to crops, something which the new research says is consistent with a fireball shockwave.
The new study published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science said: “Our planet experiences falls of meteorites with different airburst and ground impact risk.
“Some of these meteors can survive after the atmospheric passage and fall into the ground.
“Although there are claims that people were hit and killed by meteorites in history, the historical records do not prove this fact so far.
“This event is the first report ever that states a meteor impact killed a man with the support of three written manuscripts that report an event in such detail up to our knowledge.
“Due to the fact that these documents are from official government sources and written by the local authorities, even grand vizier himself as well, we do not have any suspicion on their reality.
“This event was also reported to Abdul Hamid II (34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire) by the governor of Sulaymaniyah.
“These findings suggest other historical records may still exist that describe other events that caused death and injuries by meteorites.”
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