Russian Meteorite Clean-Up ‘Two-Thirds Complete’

MOSCOW, February 23 (RIA Novosti) – Almost 10,000 windows were mended and 1,500 psychological consultations provided as part of the meteorite hail recovery effort in Russia’s Urals, the country’s Emergency Situations Ministry said on Saturday.

Emergency services removed more than 160 tons of glass shattered by the shockwave from the meteorite that exploded above Chelyabinsk Region on February 15, the ministry said on its website.

The cleanup operation is 65 percent completed, the report said. The operation will be wrapped up by Monday, the ministry said, Vesti FM radio reported on Saturday.

About 11,000 people and 2,100 units of equipment are involved in the relief effort, according to ministry’s figures.

More than 1,500 people were injured due to the meteorite’s passing, most of them by glass shattered by the shockwave. Forty-four remained hospitalized as of Saturday, according to Vesti FM.

Damages from the meteorite hail were estimated at 1 billion rubles ($33 million). NASA said the meteorite released about 500 kilotons of energy when it exploded in the atmosphere, though the Russian Academy of Sciences gave a preliminary estimate of between 100 and 200 kilotons.

Meanwhile, some entrepreneurial minds found a way of capitalizing on the celestial body: In addition to numerous meteorite fragments of questionable provenance put up on sale by various dealers, a company reportedly headed by the leader of Chelyabinsk Lutheran community applied to register several meteorite-related brands for a range of foodstuffs, Russia’s patent agency said on Friday.

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