The number of casualties of the meteor that struck Chelyabinsk Friday morning has sharply risen, reaching 1,100. Officials from the Ministry of Emergency Situations have told press that 1,147 people have sought medical attention, of which 58 have been hospitalised with serious injuries. This is the first time in history such a large number of people have been wounded by a meteor strike.
The meteor itself landed in a frozen lake, 80km from Chelyabinsk. A team of divers is now preparing to recover the meteorite from Lake Cherbakul, where it is apparently lying at a depth of ten metres. A six metre long fragment of the object was found on the lake's shore by soldiers.
Further details have emerged about the meteor and its flight: scientists estimate it weighed tens of tonnes and entered the atmosphere at 54,000km an hour. It began to disintegrate 30km inside the atmosphere, apparently exploding 20km above the city. Valerie Shuvalov. a scientist from the Institute of Geosphere Dynamics within the Russian Academy of Sciences told podrobnosti.ru, that it was almost certainly made of iron and nickel. NASA has denied that the asteroid has any connection to the asteroid DA 14 that passed over the earth this evening.
The lake itself reportedly has a 12m depth and is 20km in size. The meteor landed roughly a kilometre from the shore.
The rumours throughout the day, that the meteor had been shot down by Russian missile defence forces, have been dismissed by a former Russian military official, who told Komsomolskaya Pravda the low-level and speed of the object would have made it impossible to see in advance.
Speaking of rumours, there's another going around that some Chelyabinskians who didn't have their windows smashed by the blast are doing it themselves in the hope of receiving compensation. Unlikely and unconfirmed, but stranger things have happened today I suppose.
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