Over 500 injured as meteor shower hits Russia

By: admin
Updated: 15 Feb 2013 07:08 AM


Moscow: More
than 500 people, including 84 children, were injured when a meteorite
shower rained down on three regions of Russia, and neighbouring
Kazakhstan, officials said on Friday.

Officials said 112 people
have been hospitalised, with three in a "grave" condition, reported RIA
Novosti.



Most people were injured by shattering windowpanes and
many of the injuries seemed to be concentrated in the hard-hit Chelyabinsk
region.

An estimated 20,000 emergency response workers have been
mobilised. Background radiation levels reportedly remain unchanged. This
was confirmed both by emergencies officials, and by the national nuclear
agency, concerned because the area has a fair number of nuclear
facilities.

Reports about whether this was one large meteorite or
many smaller ones initially varied, but the national space agency,
Roscosmos, confirmed by early afternoon that the object had been a single
meteorite, a report given earlier by emergency officials.

“Verified
information indicates that this was one meteorite which burned up as it
approached the Earth and disintegrated into smaller pieces,” deputy head
of the Russian Emergencies Ministry press office, Elena Smirnykh said.

Roscosmos
stated the meteorite had been moving at a speed of 30 km per second.

"All
the city's residents saw blinding flashes, very bright ones," a teacher in
the Chelyabinsk region told RIA Novosti.

"Suddenly, it was very,
very horribly bright. Not like the lights got turned on, but as if
everything was illuminated with unusual white light."

Officials
are trying to determine where the fragments have landed.

The
Chelyabinsk governor said one had fallen in a lake in his region, while
others have been reported in the Tyumen, Kurgan and Sverdlovsk regions as
well. Emergency officials in west Kazakhstan said they were searching for
two unidentified objects that fell in the country's Aktobe region.

Russian
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum going on in
Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, called the meteorite “a symbol of the
forum”.

“I hope that there will be no serious consequences,
but it is a demonstration that it is not only the economy that is
vulnerable, but our planet as well,” he said.

The European
Space Agency (ESA) said there was no link between the meteorite and the
2012 DA14 asteroid which is due to pass close by the Earth on Friday.

Buildings
across Russia's Chelyabinsk region were damaged by falling meteorite
particles and the shock waves and sonic booms caused by them, Russian
officials said.

A roof and wall partly collapsed at a zinc
factory in Chelyabinsk region after it was struck by the shock-wave from
the meteorite, the interior ministry reported. The officials did not
specify which factory it was.

South Ural State University
cancelled classes for at least two days due to damage to its buildings.

“The
roof did not collapse, but the damage is quite significant. The windows
are broken, some of them were blown in with their frames,” said a
university spokeswoman. Some ceiling tiles also fell down, she added.

Windows
were also broken in at least a dozen schools and three hospitals. The roof
of a Chelyabinsk ice rink has also been damaged.

The
Yuzhnouralskaya district power station had 10% of its windows broken, but
there was no effect on its operations, Russian energy supplier Inter RAO
reported.

Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, said its facilities
across the affected regions were functioning normally. The defence
ministry also said none of its properties were damaged.











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