by Han Liang, He Yingjun
CHELYABINSK, Russia, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Life in Russia's Chelyabinsk Region returns to normal after Friday's meteorite explosion as residents start to cover smashed windows with Cellophane sheets to keep warm.
Though about 1,200 people were injured and hundreds of buildings got damaged in the shockwave, Chelyabinsk, the capital city of the region, seems to get back to its normal rhythm on a peaceful Saturday.
Clear sky, bright sunshine, the city looks nothing freaky on the quiet weekend morning. Transport and telecommunications systems and water and power supply are normal, so is the radiation level. Buildings without window panes became the only abnormal part of the whole picture.
Currently, window is a keyword to understand the domino effect of the blast, as most of the injured, among them 200 children, suffered cuts by broken glass from thousands of shattered windows during the rare meteorite explosion.
Local residents gradually got familiar with parachute reporters with cameras and tripods. They were willing to share what had happened one day before.
On Friday morning, they gathered on the streets to watch the super-bright fireball crossing the sky, leaving a long smoke tail behind. Then huge boom and explosion smashed glasses and triggered car alarms in the whole city.
"People screamed and ran. It was like the scene in a disaster movie," a senior resident described.
Stolpov, an Interior Ministry employee currently working in the city, told Xinhua that the rare explosion triggered panic among local residents at the very beginning. Some even thought it was the start of a war. However, follow-up news reports explained what had happened quickly and released public unease.
Space experts said the power of the meteorite explosion was 300-500 kilotons when it came into the atmosphere.
According to NASA data, the diameter of the meteorite was about 15 meters and it came across the atmosphere at a speed of 64,000 km per hour.
Chelyabinsk Zinc factory, one of the worst-hit area in the city, lost half of its 15-meter-high walls.
Nearly 300 buildings had their windows broken. Some residents used Cellophane sheets to cover the space left by shattered windows to fend off the cold.
According to the Emergency Situations Ministry, the amount of smashed windows panes in the city reached 200,000 square meters. A shortage of window panes became a new challenge for local authorities.
The damage caused by the meteorite strike is estimated to exceed 1 billion rubles (about 30 million U.S. dollars), said the authorities.
Meanwhile, the falling site of the meteorite remains a mystery.
The lake of Chebarkul, some 150 km away from the city, was one of the three possible falling sites of the meteorite, emergency authorities said earlier.
Local police have blocked the access to the ice crater in the lake. By Saturday afternoon, divers have found no fragments in the lake, an Emergencies Ministry spokesperson said.