2 October 2013, 12:31

The divers who’ve been looking for the meteorite that fell into Lake Chebarkul, near the Ural city of Chelyabinsk, when hitting the Earth in February this year, have been lucky again to find two more minor fragments of the supposed celestial body. According to the sonic finder, there is yet another major fragment on the bottom of the lake. Time will tell whether the find is a part of the chondrite.

Although the contract for recovering the more than 500 kilos of the celestial object from the lake bottom is about to expire (on October 4), the main contractor, - the ministry for environmental radiation safety of the city of Chelyabinsk, - sees no reason for growing nervous, for parts of the meteorite have been recovered and are available for research, the press secretary of the ministry, Marina Alexandrova, has told the Voice of Russia correspondent in an interview.

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© Photo: Milena Faustova/ "The Voice of Russia"

"Eight objects have been lifted to the surface from the lake bottom. They are not as big as we expected them to be, but still. Chelyabinsk University researchers have studied them and said that four of the eight are of cosmic origin, in other words, they are part of the stony meteorite. The research is continuing, with the results due to be made public after the contract has expired."

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© Photo: Milena Faustova/ "The Voice of Russia"

The divers are currently working almost non-stop in the dark and thick of bottom slit to find a way to the mysterious stone that the sonic finder has shown on its monitor. The search is going on at the depth of 18 metres. The weather is often bad, with rainfalls taking turns with gusts of wind, which makes the locals feel that the weather is kind of trying to get in the way of the divers. The local residents will never forget February 15th, the day when the meteorite exploded over the town, says one of the locals, Lyudmila.

"I saw a sharp flash and thought that war had broken out. But the cloud kept growing, and I was scared. Later, they said over the local radio that an aircraft exploded over Chelyabinsk, but then everyone learnt about the meteorite."

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© Photo: Milena Faustova/ "The Voice of Russia"

Maxim, a local eighth-former, says the fall of the meteorite into their lake is the biggest adventure he has ever experienced.

"We had a class of physical education, when we saw a bright flare in the skies, and then heard an explosion. First we thought that an aircraft or a rocket had hit the ground, but then the teacher said it was a meteorite. We got really scared. The next class was that of computer studies, and we began fishing for information about meteorites on the Internet."

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© Photo: Milena Faustova/ "The Voice of Russia"

The boy said he could barely wait when the classes were over, to dash to the ice hole with the other boys. They saw the hole, but no meteorite fragments. But a local poet, Alexander, was a lot luckier.

"When the meteorite was on its way to the lake, I came to the window to look out. Before hitting the lake ice, the celestial body knocked off my house chimney, with a minor piece of it flying into my house through the small ventilating window. I keep it at home and will never let anyone have it."

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© Photo: Milena Faustova/ "The Voice of Russia"

Experts believe that the meteorite fragment on the lake bottom may weigh as many as several hundred kilos. The fragment should be recovered from the bottom by October 4.

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