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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora