|Meteor 'Something We Only Saw in Movies'|
|By KIRIT RADIA (@kiritradia)||Feb 16, 2013, 5:05 PM|
A day after a massive meteor exploded over this city in central Russia, a monumental cleanup effort is under way.
Authorities have deployed around 24,000 troops and emergencies responders to help in the effort.
Officials say more than a million square feet of windows -- the size of about 20 football fields -- were shattered by the shockwave from the meteor's blast. Around 4,000 buildings in the area were damaged.
The injury toll climbed steadily on Friday. Authorities said today it now stands at more than 1,200. Most of those injuries were from broken glass, and only a few hundred required hospitalization.
According to NASA, this was the biggest meteor to hit Earth in more than a century. Preliminary figures suggest it was 50 feet wide and weighed more than the Eiffel Tower.
SEE PHOTOS: Meteorite Crashes in Russia
NASA scientists have also estimated the force of the blast that occurred when the meteor fractured upon entering Earth's atmosphere was approximately 470 kilotons -- the equivalent of about 30 Hiroshima bombs.
Residents said today they still can't believe it happened here.
"It was something we only saw in the movies," one university student said. "We never thought we would see it ourselves."
Throughout the city, the streets are littered with broken glass. Local officials have announced an ambitious pledge to replace all the broken windows within a week. In the early morning hours, however, workers could still be heard drilling new windows into place.
Authorities have sent divers into a frozen lake outside the city, where a large chunk of the meteor is believed to have landed, creating a large hole in the ice. By the end of the day they had not found anything.
They are not the only ones looking for it.
Meteor hunters from around the world are salivating at what some are calling the opportunity of a lifetime. A small piece of the meteor could fetch thousands of dollars and larger chunks could bring in even hundreds of thousands.