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Meteor Explodes, Boom and Debris Struck Russia, Wounding 1,200 People

( [email protected] ) Feb 15, 2013 11:06 AM EST
Debris from a 10-ton meteor streaked through the sky in western Siberia early Friday, accompanied by a sonic boom that shattered windows, damaged buildings, and more than 1,000 people were hurt the debris, stated the Russia’s Interior Ministry.
Russian police work near an ice hole said to be the point of impact of a meteor seen earlier in the Urals region, at lake Chebarkul, some 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk, February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Chelyabinsk region Interior Ministry

Debris from a 10-ton meteor streaked through the sky in western Siberia early Friday, accompanied by a sonic boom that shattered windows, damaged buildings, and more than 1,000 people were hurt the debris, stated the Russia’s Interior Ministry.

Many of the injuries were suffered by residents of the city of Chelyabinsk, about 950 miles east of Moscow. The meteor known as bolide created a powerful shock wave when it reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. Scientists believe the bolide exploded and evaporated at the height of around 20 to 30 miles above the earth’s surface, but small meteorite fragments may have reached the ground, the statement said.

A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday's events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass earth. However, the European Space Agency on its Twitter website said its experts had confirmed there was no connection.



Later today, a small asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, was expected to pass close to Earth later today, the closest of many decades, NASA reported on its Web site. It would pass within “the belt of satellites in geostationary orbit, which is 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface,” according to the statement.

In 1908, a powerful explosion flattened an estimated 80 million trees over 1,200 miles near Tunguska River in central Siberia. According to an article published on NASA Web site on June 30, 2008, the object weighing about 220 million pounds during its plunge, heated the surrounding air to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit and exploded in a fireball that released the energy equivalent of 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

“Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not impact Earth, but if another asteroid of a size similar to that of 2012 DA14 were to impact Earth, it would release approximately 2.5 megatons of energy in the atmosphere and would be expected to cause regional devastation,” NASA said. The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, the agency added.

Referring to the “Tunguska Event,” NASA said the impact of an asteroid just smaller than 2012 DA14 “is believed to have flattened about 825 square miles of forest in and around the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia.”

A contrail from what is believed to be a meteorite is seen over Chelyabinsk.


(Photo: Timotius Tjahjadi)

(Photo: Timotius Tjahjadi)

Workers repair damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Yevgeni Yemeldinov)