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Meteorite fragments found in Russia's Urals region

Fragments from meteorite
Image caption Scientists say the meteor broke apart 30-50km above ground

Fragments from a meteorite have been found in Russia's Urals region where it struck on Friday, injuring some 1,200 people, Russian scientists say.

The fragments were detected around a frozen lake near Chebarkul, a town in the Chelyabinsk region, where the meteorite is believed to have landed.

Viktor Grohovsky, of the Urals Federal University, told Russian media that the material contained about 10% iron.

Russian officials say the strike caused damage costing 1bn roubles ($33m).

Fireballs were seen streaking through the skies above Chelyabinsk, about 1,500km east of Moscow, followed by loud bangs on Friday morning.

An estimated 200,000 sq m of windows were broken; shattered glass causing most of the injuries reported in Chelyabinsk.

'Stony meteorite'

Image caption Fireballs streaked across the skies and loud bangs were heard after the meteor entered earth's atmosphere

While some 9,000 people have been helping in the clear-up and rescue operation, scientists have been concentrating their search for fragments of the rock around Chebarkul Lake, where a 6m (20ft) wide crater had been found following the strike.

"We have just completed the study, we confirm that the particulate matters, found by our expedition in the area of Lake Chebarkul indeed have meteorite nature," Mr Grohovsky was quoted by Russia's Ria Novosti news agency as saying.

"This meteorite is an ordinary chondrite, it is a stony meteorite which contains some 10% of iron. It is most likely to be named Chebarkul meteorite," he added.

A search of the lake bottom by a group of six divers on Saturday had found nothing; and it was thought the search would be delayed until the snow melts in the spring.

Russian scientists say the meteor weighed about 10 tonnes before it entered the Earth's atmosphere, travelling at some 30km (19 miles) per second, before breaking apart 30-50km (20-30 miles) above ground.

However, the US space agency Nasa said the meteor was 17m (55ft) wide and weighed 10,000 tonnes before entering the atmosphere, releasing about 500 kilotons of energy. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was 12-15 kilotons.

Scientists have played down suggestions that there is any link between the event in the Urals and 2012 DA14, an asteroid which raced past the Earth later on Friday at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200 miles) - the closest ever for an object of that size.

Such meteor strikes are rare in Russia but one is thought to have devastated an area of more than 2,000 sq km (770 sq m) in Siberia in 1908.

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