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Scientists say Chelyabinsk meteorite fall is comparable with A-bomb explosion

The explosion of the Chelyabinsk meteorite resembled the Tunguska event
Photo ITAR-TASS/STanislav Krasilnikov
Photo ITAR-TASS/STanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, October 4 (Itar-Tass) - The explosion of the Chelyabinsk meteorite in the Earth’s atmosphere could be compared with an A-bomb blast, Mikhail Marov, a members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told journalists at the Academy’s Institute of Space Research on Friday.

“This event was absolutely unique because we were able to see the scale of consequences caused by the fall of such relatively small bolide,” he said. “More than 1,500 people sought medical help after the meteorite shower, a hundred were taken to hospital, mostly with cut wounds caused by broken glass. Eyewitnesses told about a flash brighter than that of the Sun. Air temperatures went up by 20 degrees at an altitude of 12-13 kilometers.”

In his words, the explosion of the Chelyabinsk meteorite resembled the Tunguska event. “The Chelyabinsk bolide was classified as an Apollo class asteroid approaching the Earth. Here an analogy with the Tungiska meteorite is seen,” he said.

A 10,000-tonne meteorite with a diameter of about 17 meters entered the Earth atmosphere on February 15, 2013 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 say 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. This time, 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.