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Meteorite Strikes Central Russia, Up To 500 Injured

002088-russian-meteor

It’s not uncommon for meteorites to streak through the atmosphere and burn themselves out in the sky. It’s less common for one to actually make it to Earth, and yet that’s exactly what happened in Central Russia today:

MOSCOW (AP) — A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 500 people and frightened countless more.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above ground.

The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says more than 500 people sought treatment after the blasts and that 34 of them were hospitalized.

“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.

“We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.

Some fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor’s office said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments.

The agency also cited military spokesman Yarslavl Roshupkin as saying that a six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) crater was found in the same area which could be the result of fragments striking the ground.

Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said that about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed. There was no immediate clarification of whether the collapse was caused by meteorites or by a shock wave from one of the explosions.

Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor.

Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

Donald Yeomans, manager of U.S. Near Earth Object Program in California, said he thought the event was probably “an exploding fireball event.”

“If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded),” Yeoman said in an email to The Associated Press.

This being the Internet Age, it wasn’t long before video was available all over the world, and much of it is really quite spectacular. Here’s one example:

And here’s another.

And check out the sonic boom this thing created:

And, you can find other videos here.

Coincidentally, this happened on the same day that a 50 meter asteroid known as DA14 will pass within 70,000 17,000 miles of Earth, the closest any such object has passed since we started tracking larger asteroids that may pose a threat to the Earth. That passage will occur at approximately 2;24pm EST today and, while it will not be visible in North America, there will be a livestream available here. Scientists say that there is likely no connection between DA14 and the object that hit Russia today.

In the meantime, I suppose we should be glad that this much smaller rock landed in a remote part of Russia and not in the middle of a major metropolitan area.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hank Dewald says:

    Wow, that must have been terrifying to whomever it passed over. We haven’t heard a sonic boom like that since the sixties…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. JKB says:

    Quick, someone tie this into the Pope resigning.

    We are very small in a very big universe and none of us are going to make it out of here alive. But what we need is a massive government program so we can see track these things and use hype and sensationalism to induce worry in people and cause them to surrender their freedom to smooth talking lying technocrats.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 27

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From the Guardian,

    The Associated Press has a statement on the meteor from the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    The academy says the meteor weighed 10 tons and entered the earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000mph (54,000kph) and shattered between 18 and 32 miles above ground (30 to 50km).

    The Itar-Tass news agency reports that some fragments fell into a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, quoting the regional governor’s office. The agency also cited military spokesman Yarslav Roshupkin as saying that a 20ft (6m) wide crater was found in the same area.

    Donald Yeomans of the US Near Earth Object Programme in California said:

    “If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several metres in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side (it pancaked and exploded). It is far too early to provide estimates of the energy released or provide a reliable estimate of the original size.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    But what we need is a massive government program so we can see track these things and use hype and sensationalism to induce worry in people and cause them to surrender their freedom to smooth talking lying technocrats.

    Calling GWBush, Dick Cheney, John Yoo….

    Calling Dr Howard, Dr Fine, Dr Howard…. Dr Howard, Dr Fine, Dr Howard….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Chelyabinsk back in WWII was the legendary “Tankograd.” Those denizens have seen and experienced quite a lot.

    In any event, we all on occasion throw around the colloquial phrase “barring a meteor strike….” Well, shizzle, this story proves that’s not entirely whistling Dixie.

    Speaking of which, literally last week (I’m not making this up) I was going back and forth with the insurance broker for the company for which I work and we were sort of arguing about the fine details of BOPC coverage we had just renewed. And to emphasize a point he was making he wrote something along the lines of “If a meteor destroys the entire building ……” Hmm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. Anon says:

    @JKB: While the possibility of a catastrophic meteor strike is small, the probability is not negligible and the costs would be large. For example, if the Tunguska strike in 1908 had happened over a populated area today, many people would be seriously injured at the very least. It’s not actually unreasonable to devote some government resources to investigating ways to mitigate the danger. Even a 24-hour warning to those in the strike zone could save a lot of lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. Obviously that meteor didn’t get the U.S. left-wing’s memo about the “reset” of U.S. global diplomacy, right Tsar?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. JKB says:

    Everybody relax. It has been declared of “non-technogenic origin”. That is space geek for no aliens.

    Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite:
    “According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/s.”

    Now the problems:

    The total amount of window glass shattered amounts to 100,000 square meters, the site said, citing city administration head Sergey Davydov.

    Buildings were left without gas because facilities in the city had also been damaged, an Emergency Ministry spokesperson said, according to Russia 24 news channel.

    Upside, according to people like Paul Krugman, all those broken windows means an economic boom in the area (Broken Window Fallacy)

    Downside, the windows are broken out, the gas is off and it is about -6 C in the city.

    Here come the technocrats not wanting any crisis to go to waste:

    Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who also oversees the Russian defense industry, wrote on Twitter that he would speak with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev about the incident in the Urals.
    “On Monday I will bring to Medvedev a straight picture of what has happened in the Urals and prospective proposals of how the country can find out about the dangers approaching Earth and deal with them,” Rogozin wrote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  9. JKB says:

    @Anon: It’s not actually unreasonable to devote some government resources to investigating ways to mitigate the danger.

    You do realize we are broke, living on credit, right? And that unlike the movies or Star Trek we do not have the capability to move heavens and earth or force fields. Although, country music seemed to have a good defensive capability so we should pursue that technology. It’s good listening too.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 19

  10. Rob in CT says:

    @JKB:

    Seek help.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  11. Tony W says:

    I have the solution – Nate Silver should announce that he will now track where and when future meteors are going to land, unless he thinks he’ll affect that as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Anon says:

    @JKB: I only mentioned the benefit of a warning, which doesn’t require force fields.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Ben Wolf says:

    You people do realize JKB is trolling for attention, yes?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  14. inhumans99 says:

    Sigh, I thought the comments on this thread would be a lot more interesting than they actually are, instead we get a string of comments from JKB complaining that this event will cause us to reconsider allocating funds to a system designed to track celestial objects that may impact our planet, which is a big no no because we are broke.

    All I have to say is WOW! The sonic boom(s?) and the immediate sounds of glass shattering throughout the region…incredible. That last youtube clip is short but has a ton of replay value.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. Tony W says:

    @JKB:

    Broken Window Fallacy

    That one is getting tired….no little boys are running around throwing meteors at windows for one franc a piece.

    Society benefits when money at rest is forced back into the economy – particularly when that money sits in insurance company investment coffers.

    The reason libertarians call it a “fallacy” is that wealth is now going to be redistributed from the rich to the working class. Admittedly, meteorite damage is not a sustainable and scalable economic strategy in the long term, but it does provide a short economic boom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  16. Barry says:

    @JKB: “Upside, according to people like Paul Krugman, all those broken windows means an economic boom in the area (Broken Window Fallacy)”

    Wrong. Perhaps you should actually read him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  17. Barry says:

    @JKB: “You do realize we are broke, living on credit, right? ”

    Again, read Krugman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. JKB says:

    @Tony W: Society benefits when money at rest is forced back into the economy

    Outside of money hidden in Congressmen’s freezers and the odd pirate treasure, how is money removed from the economy?

    Are you aware of the definition of investment? You realize insurance companies don’t use that term as politicians do. Insurance company investments are carefully chosen to give the company a safe return. The money is in the economy helping others achieve their dreams through loans, bonds, etc.

    Now when an insurance company must sell an investment to pay off a claim, there is money churning. That churning raises the cost of good investments as money is taken away from that activity to restore an insured after a loss which was sunk cost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  19. ptfe says:

    To get back to the article:

    “… DA14 will pass within 70,000 miles of Earth …” Actually, 17,200 miles (give or take a few miles) from the surface.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Again, read Krugman.

    lol Krugman is a *** damned ******* idiot and so is anyone who reads him.

    In the meantime, I suppose we should be glad that this much smaller rock landed in a remote part of Russia and not in the middle of a major metropolitan area.

    lol, no it would be a good thing…well if you ever want to get mass support for a ban on meteorites.

    Oh wait…Obama voters kill **** loads of people in major metropolitan areas every day and they don’t ban them:(

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

  21. Tony W says:

    @JKB: Yep, and the investor class loses money while the window glazier and installer makes money. Redistribution. Like I said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. Al says:

    Neil deGrasse Tyson’s post on Facebook about this was pretty enlightening.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. ptfe says:

    Also: “I suppose we should be glad that this much smaller rock landed in a remote part of Russia and not in the middle of a major metropolitan area.” You do realize that Chelyabinsk has a population of about 1.1 million people in about 320 sq mi, right? That’s the population density of the City of Atlanta, but 2.5 times as large. By that standard, an exploding meteorite over the center of Atlanta is “remote and not in [] a major metropolitan area.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. wr says:

    @JKB: It’s amazing how you can use absolutely any occurrence anywhere in the world as an excuse to say something stupid about politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  25. Rob in CT says:

    @Barry:

    Much like fantasy Obama, there is a fantasy Krugman that righties know all about (the one who wants an alien invasion, believes in the broken window fallacy, and so forth) and can argue with at length.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. anjin-san says:

    And that unlike the movies or Star Trek we do not have the capability to move heavens and earth or force fields

    Actually there was something of a breakthrough on that very subject recently:

    Scientists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have created a “tractor beam” that could come straight for the set of Star Trek. The research project, which was published in Nature Photonics, successfully developed a tractor beam that uses light to attract and move objects.

    http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/star-trek-tractor-beam-created-by-scientists/

    There is a very long way to go, but it’s a start.

    Of course, for the JKB’s of the world, things have been going downhlll since Galileo, and the good old days when an ignorant and superstitious world hid under their beds and cried in terror whenever there were signs in the skies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. SoWhat says:

    I’m sure this comment will be considered OT considering the fact that it doesn’t advance the Liberals Rule, Conservatives Drool narrative which overtakes every thread here at OTB, but recently there was an interesting show on the History Channel that sought to prove scientifically that it was a massive meteorite shower in the Middle East back in the day that inspired the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Call me crazy, but I found that show infinitely more interesting and informative than a discussion about the genius of former Enron adviser Paul Krugman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. There is always the possibility that larger meteorites hit the Earth. Are the governments doing everything they could to develop the technology to detect and destroy these meteorites before they hit the ground?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Rob in CT says:

    Ah, good to see someone was up to trotting out the talking points. Thanks, Mr. sockpuppet. Jenos, I presume.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. grumpy realist says:

    @anjin-san: Oh, we’ve had photonic “tractor beams” for quite a while. Google “laser tweezers.”

    Problem is if you want to move anything bigger than a dust mote…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    lol Krugman is a *** damned ******* idiot and so is anyone who reads him.

    Says the nose picking platypus. Where’s your Nobel Prize GA?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Shanna Carson:

    Are the governments doing everything they could to develop the technology to detect and destroy these meteorites before they hit the ground?

    What is being done currently Shanna is the Near Earth Object Program at JPL. The purpose of this project is to find all near earth objects that might hit the earth with catastrophic results. This object would not have qualified. The asteroid 2012 DA 14 which is passing the earth just now (?) if it were to actually impact at some point in the future would have the capacity to cause a Tunguska type event and would be tracked.

    As of right now, we do not have the technology to affect such an objects trajectory and at best would only be able to approximate where it would hit and hopefully evacuate or ameliorate the effects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. george says:

    @JKB:

    You do realize we are broke, living on credit, right?

    Which is exactly my argument for us pulling out of foreign bases and engagements.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. the Q says:

    To GA idiot regarding Krugman being an idiot…lets see, he did win a Nobel Prize. Much of that work came about analyzing int’l economics and as an MIT professor begged the Bank of Japan to set inflationary targets which they resisted until this year. Now, they are following Krugman’s suggestions because the other advice didn’t work.

    Also, Krugman warned the stimulus was not big enough (he was right), that the deficits would not cause bond market chaos (right again) or kindle inflation (again right) or interest rates hikes (right again).

    So GA go f yourself and everyone that spouts inane BS like you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ grumpy realist

    Yes, the current state of “tracto beam” technology is quite limited.

    So was the plane the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. @Shanna Carson:

    We have a program to track the larger objects. Diverting them is a bit of a different issue.

    As I understand it, though, we don’t necessarily have the technology (yet) to track smaller objects like the one that hit Russia in time to give adequate warnings.

    Like I said, imagine, that thing hitting Manhattan, Moscow, or London.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. @ptfe:

    Yea my mistake, on which I blame the lack of caffeine. Fixed now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Tyrell says:

    The US and other countries need to develop a defense system that would track and destroy or deflect these sorts of space objects and it needs to be done sooner than later before half the earth is destroyed and the other half suffers the effects . We have the capability and the solution already on hand: nuclear missiles. These could be readily programmed and launched. This could also provide lots of jobs. Let us not wait until it is too late!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  39. rudderpedals says:

    One small problem with this solution is trading one city killer for a fallout shower of radioactive city killer fragments. Other than it not achieving the goal of diversion, it sounds great.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. sam says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    This object would not have qualified.

    Well, maybe, maybe not: NASA: Meteor exploded with force of 20 Hiroshima bombs

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. G.A.Phillips says:

    Says the nose picking platypus. Where’s your Nobel Prize GA?

    lol, they gave one to Obama’s *** damned idiot *** too…seems they just give them to dumb ***** these days, so your point is?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  42. Tyrell says:

    Two questions: Was there a warning ? If not why not? When anything penetrates airspace, radar should pick it up. Are they sure this was a meteorite? It looks like the government over there is keeping a lot of this secret. That figures. (See the famous Kecksburg incident that happened in this country and how the government still has this classified and took over the whole area).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  43. Al says:

    @Tyrell:

    Two questions: Was there a warning ? If not why not?

    No. The meteor came in from the sun relative to the Earth so it could not be seen and it was too small to detect on radar.

    It looks like the government over there is keeping a lot of this secret.

    Which government? The Russians?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. JohnMcC says:

    Hupf! Dropped in to see if any links had been put up to premillinialist blogs. All I find is arguing with trolls. I think the premillenialists would make more sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. al-Ameda says:

    Perhaps we could position the Republican Congressional delegation as observers wherever the meteorites are projected to strike?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Tyrell:

    It was all over but the shouting about 15 seconds after it penetrated the atmosphere…..

    Slap yourself. Across the face. With a mackerel, perhaps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Tyrell says:

    @Al: Yes the Russian government. But the government here is even more secretive and controlling. Roswell, Kecksburg, and other incidents: when and if something does happen, don’t call in the authorities, call every news outlet and get everything on tv. All documents related to ufo’s should be declassified. No president will ever do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. Al says:

    @Tyrell:

    “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” – Douglas Adams.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. socraticsilence says:

    Nukes wouldn’t do all that much to a huge meteor, You can look at photos of test sites– while they obliterate standing structures and melt metal they don’t displace the millions of tons of matter thatwould be needed to make a difference– its a relatively simple physics equation (hs level phsics and basic calc should be sufficent)- fracturing would require in depth knowledge of the geology and structure of the target deflection is a bit simpler but would again require the kind of knowledge that simple detection doesn’t provide (mass most importantly).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Tony W says:

    @al-Ameda: Good idea, at least they’d be doing something useful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0