News / Europe

Meteor Causes Panic in Russia

Russian officials say a meteor hit in the Chelyabinsk region, near the country’s Ural Mountains, setting off blasts that injured more than 750 people, mainly by broken glass.

Differences Between Space Objects

  • Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky object orbiting the Sun
  • Comet:  A relatively small object whose ice can vaporize in sunlight to create an atmosphere of dust and gas, and sometimes form a tail
  • Meteor: A piece of space rock -- often from an asteroid or comet -- that enters the Earth's atmosphere.  Many burn up due to the friction and heat
  • Meteorite: A meteor that survives its journey through the Earth's atmosphere and strikes the Earth's surface
Witnesses describe objects that look like burning rocks racing across the sky for hundreds of kilometers, leaving a long, white vapor trail in their wake. The sonic boom and shock that followed early Friday shattered windows and set off car alarms.

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said the meteor exploded over the sparsely populated region east of the Ural Mountains.

Hundreds of people ended up in the hospital for minor injuries due to flying debris, mostly glass.

"The wounds that people have received are mainly from windows and window frames breaking and flying around," said Vladimir Basmanikov, a surgeon at Hospital Number One in Chelyabinsk. He says his hospital had treated 60 or 70 people but that many more needed to be treated.

No fatalities were reported, but at least four people are listed in critical condition.

Amateur video purportedly showing meteor passing over Chelyabinsk region



Damage

Local authorities said a wall and the roof of a Chelyabinsk zinc factory were damaged in the blast. Vladimir Stepanov, a representative for Russia's emergency response service, said emergency teams were already in the area.

Chelyabinsk, Russia meteor blastChelyabinsk, Russia meteor blast
x
Chelyabinsk, Russia meteor blast
Chelyabinsk, Russia meteor blast
"All emergency forces and facilities were switched to high readiness mode," Stepanov said. "That's over 20,000 people, who started an investigation of the territory, to review the situation. As of 10:30 (0430 GMT), as a result of the study, it was revealed that background radiation in the territory was normal. The systems and structures in energy, communications, transport and life maintenance sectors are functioning."

Rare occurence

[The planetary science director at the U.S. space agency, NASA, says the huge meteor was an "exception."


Jim Green says "fireballs" of this kind happen on a daily basis, but most of them are not seen because they fall over the ocean or in remote areas.]
 

A massive meteorite strike is believed to have devastated more than 2,000 square kilometers of forest in Siberia in 1908. The site of Friday's meteor strike is about 5,000 kilometers west of Tungusta, where the 1908 meteor hit with the force of a thermonuclear bomb.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, was immediately informed of the incident in Chelyabinsk, as was Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The Associated Press quoted the Russian Academy Sciences as saying the meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph and broke into pieces about 30 to 50 kilometers above the ground.

Intercept technology

Russia's Interfax news agency reported that Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Friday's meteor strike showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space. "At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies," Rogozin told Interfax.

The meteor hit just hours before an asteroid known as 2012 DA14 is set to have a close encounter with Earth.  The U.S. space agency NASA says the 45-meter-wide asteroid could come as close as  27,000 kilometers above Earth. The agency insists, however, the asteroid is not in danger of crashing to Earth.

The European Space Agency in its Twitter feed says the meteor above Russia Friday has no connection with the asteroid.
 

Photo Gallery

  • The meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk, February 15, 2013. Photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru.
  • Workers repair a power line near the wall of a local zinc plant which was damaged by a shockwave from a meteor in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 15, 2013.
  • Debris is shown in the Chelyabinsk region, February 15, 2013. Photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru.
  • The meteorite contrail is seen over the village of Bolshoe Sidelnikovo, February 15, 2013.
  • The meteorite contrail is seen over Chelyabinsk, February 15, 2013. Photo provided by Chelyabinsk.ru.
  • People stand near a six-meter hole in the ice of a frozen lake, the site of a meteor fall, outside the town of Chebakul in the Chelyabinsk region. Photo: Chelyabinsk Region Police Department
  • Trees in Russia were burned down by the Tunguska meteoroid event in 1908, which was caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5-10 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
  • A minivan passes a zinc factory building with about 600 square meters of its roof collapsed in Chelyabinsk, a result of the shockwave from the meteor.
  • A woman cleans away glass debris from a window after the meteorite explosion, February 15, 2013.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dmitry from: Russia, Chelyabinsk
February 15, 2013 11:42 AM
I'm from Russia, that same Chelyabinsk. At first, right after the outbreak of the incident for many took a plane crash, but after a series of bombings, it became clear that this is something different. above us, at an altitude of about 40 km meteorite exploded. where the blast shattered windows, where the whole frame. (blow was so strong that shuddered buildings). From shrapnel injured many people, children in kindergartens and schools. Where office workers got a ceiling, partially destroyed the building of a plant. Thousands of people were left with no windows in the winter at 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The incident should not cause laughter. Today we learned what a "meteorite"
In Response

by: Anonymous
February 16, 2013 11:43 AM
It must be icy in a building without windows there. God be with you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs