The remains of the Chelyabinsk meteorite have been discovered.
In a spectacular and terrifying meteorological event, the Russian city of Chelyabinsk – population 1,130,132 as of the most recent census – was buzzed by a meteor at about 9.23 am local time. The shockwave detonation blew out windows, overloaded mobile phone networks and caused widespread panic; 474 injuries – 20 serious enough to warrant hospital treatment – have been reported so far.
State-owned Russian television reported that the meteorites had been engaged and shot down by local air defence forces, but this was contradicted later by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who said that neither Russia nor the United States had the capability to do so. Medvedev called for an international initiative to create an early warning system, to detect incoming “objects of an alien origin.”
Chelyabinsk has several nuclear power stations, but so far radiation levels are normal, according to the Russians, and evacuations are not being called for. “Ministry of Emergency Situations of Ural Region: meteorite rain over Chelyabinsk Region, no fire,” reads a Tweet from Alexander Plushev, of Echo on Moscow radio.
Russian army units have discovered three meteorite impact sites, two near Chebarkul Lake, west of Chelyabinsk, while the third landed not far from the town of Zlatoust. One of the Chebarkul impacts left a crater six meters across.
Phil Plait, Bad Astronomer, who recently gave a heads-up about asteroid DA14, has said he doesn’t think that this impact is related. The DA14 meteor is still 12 hours or more away, and coming from a different direction, making it unlikely that the Chelyabinsk event has much to do with it.
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