Divers scour Russian lake after meteor strike injures 1,200
By Dmitry Zaks, AFPMOSCOW--Divers scoured the bottom of a Russian lake on Saturday for fragments of a meteorite that plunged to Earth in a blinding fireball whose shockwave injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes.
February 17, 2013, 11:36 am TWN
The 10-metric-ton meteor streaked across the Urals region on Friday just as the world braced for a close encounter with a large asteroid that left some Russian officials calling for the creation of a global system of space object defense.
The unpredicted meteor strike ground traffic to a halt in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk as residents poured out on the streets to watch the light show before hovering for safety when a sonic boom rang out directly overhead.
Shattered glass caused most of the injuries. Doctors said some sustained more serious wounds from doors that were blasted off hinges and ceiling collapses. About 50 people were recovering in hospitals early Saturday.
Officials counted 2,962 buildings ranging from hospitals and schools to regular households suffering from shattered glass and cracked walls.
“We have a special team working ... that is now assessing the seismic stability of buildings,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told residents as he inspected the damage in the central Russian city.
“We will be especially careful about switching the gas back on,” he said in televised remarks.
A piece of the meteor — called a meteorite once it hits the ground — was believed to have plunged into the Chelyabinsk region's frozen Lake Chebarkul.
But the six divers who searched its waters for three hours on Saturday were able to finding nothing but mud and silt.