2ND UPDATE — Russian region begins recovery from meteor fall (with video links; Cuban meteor report)
The Associated Press
Alexander Babin, injured by glass window broken by a shock wave from a meteor explosion, rests after getting a medical care in Chelyabinsk Regional Hospital in Chelyabinsk, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, on Saturday.
By The Associated Press
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Cuba, too, reports powerful meteorite explosionThe Associated Press
HAVANA — Cuba apparently experienced a phenomenon similar to the meteorite that detonated over Russia this week, island media reported, with startled residents describing a bright light in the sky and a loud explosion that shook windows and walls.
There were no reports of any injuries or damage such as those caused by the Russia meteorite, which sent out shockwaves that hurt some 1,200 people and shattered countless windows.
In a video from a state TV newscast posted on the website CubaSi late Friday, unidentified residents of the central city of Rodas, near Cienfuegos, said the explosion was impressive.
"On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon, and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire, bigger than the sun," one local man said in the video.
"My home shook completely," said a woman. "I had never heard such a strange thing."
Marcos Rodriguez, whom the video identified as a specialist in anthropology, said all signs point to a meteorite.
A reporter said a similar phenomenon was observed in 1994 elsewhere in Cienfuegos province.
The video said Cuban authorities were looking for any fragments that may have fallen to the earth.
2. RELATED STORY: Fireball streaks across California sky: http://hosted2.ap.org/WAPAN/APHome/Article_2013-02-16-California%20Fireball/id-5e4f156c15a242c291eea7218075113a
3. RELATED STORY: Size of blast and number of injuries are seen as rare for a rock from space: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/16/science/space/size-of-blast-and-number-of-injuries-are-seen-as-rare-for-a-rock-from-space.html?src=se
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CHELYABINSK, Russia — A small army of workers set to work Saturday to replace the estimated 200,000 square meters (50 acres) of windows shattered by the shock wave from a meteor that exploded over Russia's Chelyabinsk region.
The astonishing Friday morning event 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 of the injured remained hospitalized on Saturday, two of them in serious condition, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the regional health ministry.
Regional governor Mikhail Yurevich on Saturday said that damage from the high-altitude explosion —estimated to have been as powerful as 20 Hiroshima bombs -- is estimated at 1 billion rubles ($33 million). He promised to have all the broken windows replaced within a week.
But that is a long wait in a frigid region. The midday temperature in Chelyabinsk was minus-12 C (10 F), 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 mobilized in the region to cover windows, gather warm clothes and food and make other relief efforts, the regional governor's office said. Crews from glass companies in adjacent regions were being flown in.
In the town of Chebarkul, 80 kilometers (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 six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) hole. Emergency Ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius told Russian news agencies the search hadn't found anything.
Police kept a small crowd of curious onlookers from venturing out onto the icy lake, where a tent was set up for the divers.
Many of them were still trying to process the memories of the strange day they'd lived through.
Valery Fomichov said he had been out for a run when the meteor streaked across the sky shortly after sunrise.
"I glanced up and saw a glowing dot in the west. And it got bigger and bigger, like a soccer ball, until it became blindingly white and I turned away," he said.
In a local church, clergyman Sexton Sergei sought to derive a larger lesson.
"Perhaps God was giving a kind of sign, so that people don't simply think about their own trifles on earth, but rather look to the heavens once in a while."
In Chelyabinsk, university student Ksenia Arslanova said she was pleased that people in the city of 1 million generally behaved well after the bewildering flash and explosions.
"People were kind of ironic about it. And that's a good thing, that people didn't run to the grocery store. Everyone was calm," the 19-year-old architecture student said. "I'm proud that our city didn't fall into depression."
Last modified: February 16. 2013 9:57AM