Russian meteor strike compared to 30 Hiroshima bomb explosion

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 06:27 hrs

London: The meteor that exploded in Russia on Friday had an impact 30 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb, NASA scientists have said.

The 55 foot wide rock, said by NASA to have a mass of 10,000 tonnes, lit up the sky above the Urals region on Friday morning, causing shockwaves that injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes in an event unprecedented in modern times.

NASA estimated that the energy released as the meteor's disintegrated in the atmosphere was 500 kilotons, around 30 times the size of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, the Telegraph reported.

It entered the atmosphere at 44,000 miles per hour, taking 32.5 seconds to break up at an altitude of around 15 miles above the earth's surface.

The resulting explosion created a shockwave that blew out windows and set of car alarms in Chelyabinsk two and a half minutes later.

Divers were searching the Chelyabinsk region's frozen Lake Chebarkul for a fragment of the meteorite.

No fragments have been found in the region so far - despite some 20,000 rescuers and recovery workers being dispatched to help the hundreds of people injured.

"We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average," Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office said.

The strike brought 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 as a sonic boom shattered glass and set off car alarms. Most of the injuries were caused by glass.

The meteor explosion appears to be one of the most stunning cosmic events above Russia since the 1908 Tunguska Event in which a massive blast most scientists blame on an asteroid or a comet ripped through Siberia.

Russian scientists were initially reported to have estimated its mass to be around 10 tonnes, but NASA later claimed it was considerably larger with a mass closer to 10,000 tonnes. 

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