Turkey: Villagers cash in on meteorites

A woman's hands holding small meteorite pieces Image copyright DHA
Image caption The meteorites are a boon to villagers who work mostly in agriculture or hold seasonal jobs in cities

Villagers in eastern Turkey have earned more than one million lira ($350,000; £230,000) from selling meteorite fragments which showered the area in September, it's reported.

Local people in Saricicek, in Bingol province, are still scouring the fields around the village, and some have been able to buy cars or houses using the proceeds from their finds, the Haberturk news website reports. The meteorites can fetch up to $60 (£40) a gram, according to the report.

The luckiest of the village's 3,200 residents could be Hasan Beldek, 30, who found a 1.5kg (3.3lb) chunk after being pestered to go searching by his mother-in-law. "I couldn't bear it any more so I went out and decided to give it a try," he tells the site. "I searched the area for three to four hours. Then a bright black stone larger than a man's fist looked right up at me."

Mr Beldek has already turned down offers of up to 350,000 lira ($120,000; £80,000) for the rock, because he thinks it could fetch more. Any money he makes will be used to open a pastry shop in Istanbul with his brothers, he says.

A similar space-treasure hunt gripped Russia's Chelyabinsk region in 2013, after a huge meteor deposited fragments across a wide area before crashing into a lake. At the time, one scientist noted that while the minerals in the fragments are of no great scientific interest, large meteorites are still highly prized by researchers and collectors.

Image copyright DHA
Image caption Local people have been trying to find every last meteorite in the fields around the village

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