Meteor strike in Russia hurts almost 1,000

A plunging meteor which exploded with a blinding flash above central Russia, set off a shockwave that shattered windows and hurt almost 1,000 people in an event unprecedented in modern times.

Experts insisted the meteor's fiery entry into the atmosphere on Friday was not linked to the asteroid 2012 DA 14, which later passed about 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometres) above the Earth without incident in an unusually close approach.

But the extraordinary event brought morning traffic to a sudden halt in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk as shocked drivers stopped to watch the falling meteor partially burning up in the lower atmosphere and light up the sky.

The fall of such a large meteor estimated as weighing dozens of tonnes was extremely rare, while the number of casualties as a consequence of its burning up around a heavily-inhabited area was unprecedented.

Chelyabinsk regional governor Mikhail Yurevich, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, said 950 people were injured, with two-thirds of the injuries light wounds from glass shards and other materials blown out by the shockwave.

Windows were shattered by the shockwave across the city's region with the ministry saying almost 300 buildings were damaged including schools, hospitals, a zinc factory and even an ice hockey stadium.

"At 9:20 am (0320 GMT), an object was observed above Chelyabinsk which flew by at great speed and left a trail behind. Within two minutes there were two bangs," regional emergencies official Yuri Burenko said in a statement.

The office of the local governor said that a meteorite had fallen into a lake outside the town of Chebarkul in the Chelyabinsk region and television images pointed to a six-metre (20-foot) hole in the frozen lake's ice.

However it has yet to be finally confirmed if meteorite fragments made contact with the Earth and there were no reports that any locals had been hurt directly by a falling piece of meteorite.

Schools were closed for the day and theatre shows cancelled across the region after the shock wave blew out windows amid temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius (zero degrees Fahrenheit).

"Thank God that nothing fell onto inhabited areas," President Vladimir Putin said in a meeting with Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, ordering him to look into how to warn citizens about such events.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that it estimated the body to be several metres long and weighing several dozen tonnes. "It burned up at a height of 30-50 kilometres... but pieces could have fallen to Earth as meteorites."

The meteor explosion appears to be one of the most stunning cosmic events above Russia since the 1908 Tunguska Event, when a massive blast most scientists blame on an asteroid or a comet impact ripped through Siberia.

"I am scratching my head to think of anything in recorded history when that number of people have been indirectly injured by an object like this... it's very, very rare to have human casualties," Robert Massey, deputy executive secretary of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), told AFP.

But he stressed that he saw "absolutely no connection" between the Chelyabinsk event and asteroid 2012 DA 14.

Live images from a telescope at the Gingin Observatory in western Australia showed the asteroid looking like a white streak.

The time of closest approach was about 2:25 pm EST (1925 GMT), said the US space agency NASA, which had called the event "the closest-ever predicted approach to Earth for an object this large."

NASA estimates an asteroid such as 2012 DA 14 flies close to Earth every 40 years on average, but only hits our planet once every 1,200 years.

Paul Chodas, a research scientist in the Near Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, called the meteor-asteroid combination an "incredible coincidence."

Chodas said it was "virtually impossible" to spot objects such as the meteor that struck Russia, which he called a "tiny asteroid", ahead of time against a daytime sky.

With the meteor quickly a leading trend on Twitter, locals posted amateur footage on YouTube showing men swearing in surprise and fright, and others grinding their cars to a halt.

"First I thought it was a plane falling, but there was no sound from the engine... after a moment a powerful explosion went off," witness Denis Laskov told state television.

Footage is viewable on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_nOaRpF0DJk.

The Chelyabinsk region is Russia's industrial heartland, filled with smoke-chugging factories and other huge facilities that include a nuclear power plant and the massive Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.

A spokesman for Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy state corporation, said that its operations remained unaffected.

The emergencies ministry said radiation levels in the region also did not change and that 20,000 rescue workers had been dispatched to help the injured and locate those requiring help.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Que nails first title in 3 years

    The three-time Asian Tour champion, who bounced back from a mediocre start of 72 and 71 with a fiery 66 Friday to tie Tabuena at helm, pooled a 72-hole total of seven-under 281 to nail the elusive win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour worth P650,000. Hounded by poor putting, Tabuena went birdie-less for the first time in a long while but still stayed in the title hunt with a slew of pars at the back until he bogeyed the 17th and fell by two. …

  • Church: Donate to ‘Alay Kapwa’

    An official of the Church’s social action arm has asked the faithful to be generous when making a donation to "Alay Kapwa" today, Palm Sunday, which is also designated as Alay Kapwa Sunday.   Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), said the faithful should generously give to Alay Kapwa as the amount collected will be used as emergency funds for crisis and calamities both from natural and …

  • ‘PNP’s systematic anti-crime drive to be sustained

    Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II vowed to sustain the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) deliberate, programmatic and determined approach in fighting criminality.  “The President and Filipino people can be assured that the PNP will not slow down in its mission of fighting criminality, not only in Metro Manila but nationwide," said Roxas, who bared that there has been a significant drop in criminal activities within Metro Manila, especially …

  • Visayas grid to benefit from new Luzon power plants

    Owing to the existing transmission interconnection, Visayas grid is seen benefitting from the projected ‘oversupply’ that may saturate Luzon in the next three years. The Department of Energy and players from the power industry have noted the scant flow of capital for new power projects in Visayas, but they underscored that the transmission link-up would enable the sharing of energy between the two grids. First Gen executive vice president Ernesto B. Pantangco, who is also vice president of …

  • Arroyo’s co-accused permitted to undergo hospital procedure

    A co-accused of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a plunder case has been allowed by the Sandiganbayan First Division to undergo a medical procedure tomorrow. The graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas, who was also its former budget and accounts manager, to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance procedure at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City this morning. Aguas, who is …

  • Petron expands petroleum retail operations

    Following the completion of its re-branding on acquired assets, leading Philippine oil firm Petron Corporation is now setting its goal on expanding its retail network in Malaysian petroleum market. The company has emphasized “20 more sites are in various stages of construction and commissioning.” On the downstream petroleum industry, it is the first time that a Filipino firm had brought its brand to an offshore market. It is technically some sort of ‘symbiosis’ when it comes to investments …

  • PAGASA: Storm may enter PH by Wednesday

    It may be a wet and windy Holy Week due to an erstwhile low pressure area which has intensified into a tropical storm with international name "Maysak,” according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.As of yesterday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) estimated the cyclone at about 3,300 kilometers east of Mindanao and outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).Should it maintain its present speed and track, it may enter the …

  • News In Brief

    The weighted average rate stands at P44.796 MINDANAO INFRASTRUCTURE SHARE INCREASED In a bid to boost the Mindanao economy, the Philippine government has increased the southern island’s share of the 2015 infrastructure budget to 30%, or around $4 billion, said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson at the Philippines Investment Forum in Manila last week. “In 10 years’ time it’s still likely to be 30% because while the Philippines is committed to growing renewables, demand will …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options