Meteorite hits Russian Urals: Fireball explosion wreaks havoc, over 900 injured


Russia’s Urals region has been rocked by a meteorite explosion in the stratosphere. The impact wave damaged several buildings, and blew out thousands of windows amid frigid winter weather. Hundreds have sought medical attention for minor injuries.

Around 950 people have sought medical attention in Chelyabinsk alone because of the disaster, the region's governor Mikhail Yurevich told RIA Novosti. Over 110 of them have been hospitalized and two of them are in heavy condition. Among the injured there are 159 children, Emergency ministry reported.

Army units found three meteorite debris impact sites, two of which are in an area near Chebarkul Lake, west of Chelyabinsk. The third site was found some 80 kilometers further to the northwest, near the town of Zlatoust. One of the fragments that struck near Chebarkul left a crater six meters in diameter.

Service members from the tank brigade that found the crater have confirmed that background radiation levels at the site are normal.

A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.

A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.

Experts working at the site of the impact told Lifenews tabloid that the fragment is most likely solid, and consists of rock and iron.

A local fisherman told police he found a large hole in the lake’s ice, which could be a result of a meteorite impact. The site was immediately sealed off by police, a search team is now waiting for divers to arrive and explore the bottom of the lake.

Samples of water taken from the lake have not revealed any excessive radioactivity or foreign material.

Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.

Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.(Copyright 2013 © EUMETSAT)

Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite:

“According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/s.”

According to estimates by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the space object weighed about 10 tons before entering Earth’s atmosphere.

According to preliminary reports, the worst damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk was at a zinc factory, the walls and roof of which were partially destroyed by an impact wave. The city's Internet and mobile service were reportedly interrupted because of the damage inflicted near the factory.


Neither Pretexts Nor Preconditions For Solving Crisis In Syria: Lavrov




MOSCOW,(ST)-Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that there is no room for pretexts,allegations and preconditions as regards solving the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov made a statement today in which he underscored"if our priority is to save the peoples' lives …we should say now …the fighting operations must be ceased without preconditions,".

"any measure might taken by the Security Council against Syria will be promptly put into force for foreign intervention in the crisis,"Lavrov asserted.

In this context,Lavrov pointed out that the Syrian opposition is not coordinated and is working against the Syrian government in parallel with a number of terrorist groups,recalling that the US has designated one of these groups on black list that arose the "Doha coalition" protest.





Lavrov Calls for Quitting Doubled Standards in Dealing with Crisis in Syria

Conakry – Guinea, (ST) _ Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday called for abandoning doubled standards in dealing with the crisis in Syria. 

"Russia Today" online quoted for Lavrov, who is currently touring Africa, as saying in a press statement, following a meeting with his Guinean counterpart "Francois Fall" in the capital of Guinea, "Conakry" that "to avoid doubled standards one must stop taking them as a guide" explaining that the recent events concerning the so-called "Arab Spring" is but a "a good lesson" for those who resort to doubled standards.

Highlighting the situation in Mali, Lavrov stressed the need of further steps to be taken in this country, taking the position of the leadership in Mali, into account. 


Syrian leadership resignation no precondition for Syria peace talks – Russia

Russia will never agree to setting the Syrian leadership  resignation as a precondition for peace talks between the Syrian warring parties.

This came Tuesday in a statement by the head of Russian Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov.

Mr. Pushkov said the Kremlin would never accept a “first Syria leadership's  resignation, then talks” formula. “I don’t think the Syrian leadership would agree to it either,” he added,according to the Voice of Russia.

Russia and France see more eye to eye on Syria, Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee chief Alexei Pushkov told reporters on Wednesday.

Addressing the 17th meeting of the Russian-French inter-parliamentary committee, Mr. Pushkov said Russia’s Western partners were beginning to see that the Syrian leadership's   resignation wasn’t a silver bullet for the crisis in Syria.


Terrorists in Syria loot artifacts to raise money

As the crisis in Syria  nears its third year, the world community  warn that Syria’s historical sites face a new, more dangerous threat: a sophisticated network of smugglers and dealers looking to capitalize on the country’s cultural riches.To the caches of ammunition and medicines that they lug each day from this border city back into their homeland, Syrian terrorist groups  have added new tools to support their fight against the Syrian government,according to the Washington Post.

The terrorist groups , struggling to finance their effort, have joined an emerging trade in illicitly acquired Syrian artifacts and antiquities.

 “Some days we are against the government; others we are archaeologists,” Jihad Abu Saoud, a 27-year-old terrorist  from the Syrian city of Idlib, said in an interview in this northern Jordanian city. Saoud claimed to have recently uncovered tablets from the Bronze Age city of Ebla inscribed in the Sumerian script.

Since the onset of the crisis in Syria, the international community has expressed alarm over the fate of the country’s diverse heritage landmarks and stunning archaeological sites.

 “In light of previous experiences in situations of conflict, with respect to cultural heritage, the risk of looting and illicit trafficking of Syrian cultural objects appears to be high,” said Anna Paolini, head of the Jordan office of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The extent of the trade is unknown because of difficulties accessing historical sites in the country, according to UNESCO, which hosted a regional workshop in Amman on Sunday on protecting Syrian cultural heritage from trafficking. There are conflicting reports about the fate of artifacts from Syria, long a cultural crossroads.

Twelve of the country’s 36 museums have been looted, according to the France-based Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology. In a Jan. 22 report, however, the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums said the bulk of the items have been accounted for and transferred to secure locations.

Only two pieces have been taken from display cases since the start of the conflict, the ministry reported: a bronze statue from the northwestern city of Hama dating to the Aramaic period and a collection of marble figurines and tablets from the museum at Apamea.

“This isn’t just the history of Syria but the history of mankind at stake,” said Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Syrian antiquities directorate. Before the crisis s, he said, plunderers “were digging at night. Now they are digging in broad daylight.”


Ten Afghan "civilians" killed in NATO airstrike

A NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five children, in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, local officials said, a toll that if confirmed is likely to raise tension between President Hamid  Karzai's government and U.S.-led NATO forces, according to Reuters.

The strike, in the Shigal district of Kunar province, was confirmed by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), though a spokesman said it could not confirm civilian casualties.

"Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us," Kunar Governor Fazlullah Wahidi told Reuters.

Four Taliban rebels were also killed in the strike and five civilians wounded, he said.

The strike occurred in the village of Chawgam and the 10 dead civilians were from two local families, Wahidi said.

A spokesman for ISAF, Major Adam Wojack, said he was aware of an incident which "matched" the report from Kunar, but he could not confirm casualty numbers.

"We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and we are currently assessing the incident to determine more facts," Wojack said.

ISAF regularly states that it has reduced civilian casualties in recent years, and that the insurgents are now responsible for 84 per cent of all such deaths and injuries.

The airstrike came within hours of U.S. President Barack Obama's declaration that he would be withdrawing half the U.S. troops in Afghanistan - 34,000 - by the end of this year.

That would be followed by further troop withdrawals next year which would lead to the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, he said.


Lavrov:Russia,South Africa share same views on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that Russia and South Africa are sharing same views as regards the settlement of a number of conflicts and crisis including the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Lavrov's remarks came during a joint press conference with his South African counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in Pretoria.

Lavrov and Maite discussed preparation for the planned state visit of president Putin to Pretoria to take part in the BRICS summit.

"the planned state visit of president Putin is an important milestone for us to deliver on commitments made during previous presidential meetings and other high level engagements ,and the signing of eight agreements during the presidential visit will assist us in addressing these challenges,"said Maeti.


Russia, Algeria for Settling Conditions in Syria, Mali without Foreign Interference

MOSCOW,(ST)_ " Russia and Algeria hold identical views on the need of settling the situation in both Syria and Mali through political and diplomatic channels, without foreign interference," said the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday following his talks with the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers.

"During talks with President Bouteflika , our view points were identical on the necessity of activating reform of the global system relying on the rule of law, the central role of the United Nations and the UN Security Council and the need to settle disputes through political and diplomatic ways without interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states. " Russia Today online quoted Lavrov as saying to pressmen.

"From this angle, we evaluate events in the Middle East and North Africa, including the dramatic developments in Syria, Mali and other countries in the region." Lavrov said,

He went on: "The two sides agreed to continue dialogue at all levels, to coordinate steps concerning foreign policy and the development of bilateral cooperation, especially in the military-technical, humanitarian and scientific spheres.


T. Fateh