The NASA has estimated that the energy released by the meteor’s impact with the atmosphere was 500 kilotonnes, around 30 times the force of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The meteor which caused havoc Chelyabinsk in entered the atmosphere and broke up at an altitude of around 32 miles, causing a shockwave that blew out windows and set off car alarms in the Russian town two and a half minutes later.
Western scientists have called the asteroid explosion over Russia the largest explosion of its kind in more than a century. Unusual for an incoming meteor, the incident injured 1,200 people. Workers set to replace the estimated 2,00,000 square metres (50 acres) of windows shattered in more than 4,000 buildings yesterday.
Scientists said the meteor’s close miss should serve a wake-up call for the international community to set up a system for monitoring meteors of similar size and providing advance warnings.
Fifteen injured remained hospitalised yesterday, one of them in coma, the regional health ministry said.
Regional governor Mikhail Yurevich said damage from the high-altitude explosion — estimated to have the force of 20 atomic bombs — is estimated at 1 billion rubles ($33 million). He promised to have all the broken windows replaced within a week.
Around 24,000 people have mobilised in the region to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food and make other relief efforts, the regional governor’s office said. Crews from glass companies in adjacent regions were being flown in. Divers searched the bottom of frozen Lake Chebarkul, about 80 km from Chelyubinsk where a chunk of the meteor is believed to have plunged, but found nothing.
Clergyman Sexton Sergei sought to derive a larger lesson. “God was giving a sign, so that people don’t simply think about their own trifles on earth, but look to the heavens once in a while.”
Fragments of big bucks
Washington: US scientists said the fragments of space rock could bring a fortune.
“A small piece is worth a few hundred dollars, but a large chunk can be up to $100,000,” said Joseph Gutheinz, a specialist on meteorites. Chris Palma, an astrophysicist said, “If it has a composition that suggests it likely came from Mars, then the value goes through the roof,” he added.
“eBay would be a good place to sell, but if you have a large rock you’d want to go to an auction house,” he said.