Debris of Progress cargo spacecraft falls in South Siberian taiga

BARNAUL, August 24 (Itar-Tass) — Debris of the cargo spacecraft Progress that failed to reach the designated orbit after launch towards the International Space Station earlier Wednesday has fallen on the ground 50 kilometers away from the township of Karakoksha in the Choya district of the Republic of Altai, southern Siberia.

The territorial branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense /EMERCOM/ said preliminary information indicates there are no victims or destructions the site of the crash.

“Only a powerful explosion has been registered,” an EMERCOM source said.

At the time of reporting, the ministry’s helicopters were still unable to leave for a mission to the area where the debris had collapsed.

Search groups will have the task of examining the Bizhelbik natural preserve area that is located in a remote part of the Republic of Altai and is rugged with the taiga.

“It’s a place difficult to approach by land and by air likewise,” a police source in the Choya district told Itar-Tass.

Dr Alexander Puzanov, a deputy director of the Siberian Institute for the Studies of Water and Ecology Problems, believes the downfall of the debris will unlikely bring up any large-scale emergency situations.

He watched the liftoff of the Soyuz V carrier rocket, which was supposed to take the Progress into orbit, at the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.

“There’s no clear understanding at this stage of what exactly happened /to the Progress/,” Dr Puzanov said. “The debris fell on a mountainous terrain and that’s why it can scarcely pose danger to anyone.”

“As for the rocket fuel, it burned out in the atmosphere,” he said adding that he himself would go to the zone of the spacecraft’s collapse Friday and would join the search operation on the ground.

In the meantime, sources in the Russian aerospace and rocket industry told Itar-Tass the Progress was carrying about 800 kilograms of heptyl for the ISS needs.

Residents of the town of Choya, the administrative center of the district, said they had learned about the accident with the Progress from the mass media.

“We didn’t here any explosions at all,” a man living in Choya told Itar-Tass when he was asked about whether or not some media reports were correct in claiming the explosion produced by the spacecraft’s fall had been heard a hundred kilometers away from the site.

“Everything’s quiet here,” the man said. “We’re enjoying a regular night typical for August.”

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