Our planet has always been subject to extraterrestrial showers, as debris from space has been raining down on us for centuries. Interestingly, Earth has been struck twice by gigantic rocks, first with extreme force during the early stages of its formation which almost turned the planet into a hellscape but no life existed on it during that time and once again a giant space rock crashed on our planet that erased the existence of the dinosaurs. Fortunately, as of today we are able to detect giant asteroids years before and most of the tiny materials are burnt upon entering our atmosphere and we never have to worry about them. Still, when someone’s time runs out, the universe finds strange and rare ways to depart them.
What are Meteorites?
Though there are basically space rocks, due to our habit of naming each and everything each rock is categorized in different segments depending on its size and origin. A meteoroid is a general term that is used for these space rocks that are anywhere from a grain of sand to a meter in size, while the larger ones are known as asteroids which can be anywhere from a meter to 300 meters. Once the meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they tend to catch fire and then these are known as meteors. While most of these are burnt away, the ones that survive this journey and crash land onto the surface are known as Meteorites.
Deaths by Meteorites
While meteorites falling onto someone in present times is extremely rare and it causes the death of a person is unheard of, there was an incident in 1954 where a meteorite crashed through the roof of Ann Hodges while she was napping and hit her hips. Although it must’ve been a painful experience, she survived and was able to tell the story. Apart from this, there have been no recorded incidents involving meteorites in this century but in the past things may have been different.
- A.D. 616: Found in the official records of the Ancient Chinese Dynasty in the Book of Sui. Emperor at the time ordered his scholars to record the history of the Sui dynasty and in this, we find the earliest documented case of death by meteorite. In the book, it is written that a shooting star crashed onto the campsite of Lu Ming-Yueh, a rebel and this meteorite crashed into the attack tower. Upon being struck the tower was destroyed and resulting in collapsing of the wall that killed 10 people. However, according to meteorologists for a meteorite to cause such an impact it had to be of a larger size and weighing up to hundreds of kilos. They believe it was a part of military propaganda. Still an interesting record nonetheless.
- 1648: According to Captain Olof E. Willman, a Swedish sailor, their ship was struck by a rock that fell from the heavens during their voyage on the spice route between Holland and Dutch East Indies in 1648. Though the captain documented this approximately 20 years after the incident, some historians consider it as a reliable source of information as he had written about other events as well which were true. As for this event, their ship, the Malacca was struck by a meteorite and two of his sailors were standing at the point of contact and died at the spot. Though in 1994, a Swedish scientist showed that their particular route involved multiple active volcanos and among one of these, one must’ve launched a rock towards their ship.
- 1888: Perhaps this one can be considered as the true documented case as the date and even the time has been recorded of the event. While searching the Turkish State Archives a group of Turkish researchers discovered that two people were involved in a meteorite crash in which one was killed while another was injured and later paralyzed. Unlike the previous two records, which may or may not have occurred this one seems legit and even meteorologists are in favor of this record, as during the Ottoman Empire everything was recorded, historians claim that even if one sneezed it was somehow in the records. Additionally, many stories claiming death from above have been around the world for thousands of years but they never have any evidence to back them up. This event happened in the present Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on 22 August 1888 at precisely 8:30 P.M. according to the documents, as there was a pile of countless documents that were being searched three letters were found that were in fact written by the local authorities moments after the event. In the letter, it is stated that this entire event happened for around 10 minutes and during this, a fireball from the sky crashed onto Earth and upon the impact, it barrel-rolled into the nearby hill. During this, this one man was killed and this incident was written to be reported to Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, the meteorite itself has not been found.
It is quite astonishing to find a recorded case of such an event, where countless stories have been floating around but no real evidence was found. Now meteorologists all around the world are trying to find more evidence of the last event and historians are searching for more documents. It also has ignited a new search and decryption of ancient documents throughout the world to find more information regarding these events and others as well.