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Explorer says one-tonne meteorite is lying on bottom of lake in Russia’s Karelia

December 13, 2014, 0:10 UTC+3 PETROZAVODSK
Magnetic field distortion has been registered over the meteorite crater
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© Archive ITAR-TASS

PETROZAVODSK, December 12. /TASS/. A meteorite weighing about one tonne is lying buried deep in sand on the bottom of Lake Vygozero in Russia’s northwestern republic of Karelia, Vadim Chernobrov, the leader of a team of researchers, said on Friday.

“A celestial body flew from the easterly direction, from a low population area at about 08:00 a.m. Moscow time on December 1. This meteorite was making practically no noise while falling and the most loud sound it produced was the sound of it hitting the ice,” Chernobrov, who heads the Kosmopoisk (Space Research) association, told journalists, adding that this was the reason that so few people had witnessed its fall when it was still dark. “Divers managed to sense the object under sand on the lake’s bottom.”

Magnetic field distortion has been registered over the meteorite crater. Divers failed to lift the heavy object from the bottom because of thin ice. “All observable factors - the flight direction, whop, specific crater testifying to the velocity of the fall - all indicate that it was a meteorite,” he said. “It is a unique case having no precedents in the history.”

A probable meteorite fall in Lake Vygozero was reported on December 2, when two fishermen called to the local emergencies services to say they had seen a trace along the coastline as though something had plowed up the soil. The trace ended in a clearing in the lake’s ice. They said one of them had come closer to the clearing to see a crater but he could not tell exactly what was down there - the bottom was sandy and covered with silt. When rescuers reached the scene, they also saw the trace and a 12-metre bank caving and a clearing in the lake. An amateur diver said he had seen a four-metre crated on the bottom, but no objects in the vicinity.

Meteorite attacks hit the headlines after the notorious meteorite fall near Russia’s Urals city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013. A 10,000-tonne meteorite with a diameter of about 17 meters entered the Earth atmosphere and broke into numerous fragments, the bulk of which fell down in Russia’s Urals Chelyabinsk region. A shock wave that followed the fall of the meteorite broke windows in more than 4,700 houses in Chelyabinsk. Astronomers said the Chelyabinsk meteorite was the biggest celestial object to hit the Earth since the Tunguska event in 1908, when a huge meteorite exploded over Russia’s Siberia. In 2013, the meteorite shower was observed in five Russian regions - the Tyumen, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions, and in the republic of Bashkortostan.

Eyewitnesses said they had first seen a bright flash in the sky and had heard the sound of explosion. More than 1,500 people, including more than 300 children, sought medical help after the incident, and as many as 69 people, including 13 children, were hospitalized.

Several fragments of the meteorite have already been found. The biggest one measuring 12 centimetres in diameter was lifted from the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. These fragments are now being studied by scientists.

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