Clear-up in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region after meteor

A SMALL army of workers set to work yesterday to replace the estimated 200,000 square metres of windows shattered by the shockwave from a meteor that exploded over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region.

The freak event, early on Friday local time, blew out windows in more than 4,000 buildings in the region, mostly in the capital city of the same name, and injured some 1,200 people, largely with cuts from the flying glass.

Forty people remained in hospital yesterday, two of them in serious condition, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

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Regional governor Mikhail Yurevich said damage from the high-altitude explosion – estimated to have been as powerful as 20 Hiroshima bombs – is ­expected to be about one billion rubles (about £21 million). He promised to have all broken windows replaced within a week.

But a week is a long time in the bitterly cold region. The midday temperature in Chelyabinsk yesterday was -12C, and for many the immediate task was to put up plastic sheeting and boards on shattered residential windows.

More than 24,000 people, including volunteers, have mobilised to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food and make other relief efforts. Crews from glass companies in adjacent regions are being flown in.

In the town of Chebarkul, 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk city, divers explored the bottom of an ice-
crusted lake looking for meteor fragments believed to have fallen there, leaving a 6m-wide hole. Nothing has been found so far.

Police kept onlookers from venturing onto the icy lake, where a tent was set up for divers. Many were still trying to process the bizarre events of the day.

In a local church, clergyman Sexton Sergei suggested divine intervention. “Perhaps God was giving a kind of sign, so people don’t simply think about their own trifles on Earth, but rather look to the heavens once in a while,” he said.