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Meteorite falls in northern Latvia

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RIGA, October 26 – No one was injured after a meteorite fell near a small town in northern Latvia on Sunday, local Latvian media reported. According to media reports, the meteorite fell near a residential house on the outskirts of Mazsalaca town in the Valmiera district of Latvia, leaving a crater of some 20 meters (66 feet) in diameter and 10 meters (33 feet) deep. A spokesperson for the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service said that rescuers and soldiers immediately cordoned off the territory, however, it is still not clear whether it was an asteroid or a space satellite. “The territory has been immediately cordoned off as we still do not know what fell down from the sky. According to preliminary information, it was a meteorite. However, it is possible that it was a [space] satellite or its fragment. A radioactive contamination is also possible,” she said.

A witness, who saw the object falling from the sky and leaving a burning trace behind, said it was making a noise similar to the one of an aircraft flying at a low altitude. On March 2 this year, a 35-meter asteroid came within 72,000 kilometers of Earth. The size of the space rock was comparable to the asteroid that caused the Tunguska disaster, but there was no danger of a collision. On June 30, 1908, an explosion equivalent to between 5 and 30 megatons of TNT occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote region of Russia’s Siberia. The Tunguska blast flattened 80 million trees, destroying an area of around 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles). It is assumed that a huge meteorite had hit the area, although research expeditions failed to find an obvious crater.

– Experts in the Baltic country rushed to the site after reports that a metorite-like object had crashed in the Mazsalaca region near the Estonian border on Sunday afternoon. But after examining the site, Uldis Nulle, a scientist at the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, said: “This is not a real crater. It is artificial.” Earlier he had said he believed the 27ft and 9ft deep crater might have been caused by a meteorite. He said: “My first impression is yes, it was a meteorite. “All the evidence suggests this when compared to pictures of real meteorite craters.” However, geologist Dainis Ozols had already cast doubt on the meteorite theory after examining the hole. When the crater was found, with burning material at the bottom, worried residents called emergency services. Dramatic video posted online showed onlookers walking towards the edge of the crater and gasping as they saw the fire burning at its centre. The rim of the crater was raised a little and there was a black-grey scar at the bottom which indicated a meteor strike, he added. State police cordoned off the hole to deter souvenir hunters looking for stardust. Meteors are chunks of metallic or stony matter which enter the earth’s atmosphere from outer space. The few which do not break up before reaching the earth are called meteorites. The largest meteorite ever found weighed about 60 metric tons and fell to Earth near a farm in Namibia. news from en.rian.ru & news.sky.com


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