‘Like fireworks in the morning’: Pavel Zlobin of ARMSS shares his account of the meteor crash that shook Russia

Read the story of Pavel Zlobin from the All-Russian MS Society, who witnessed the meteorite strike.

“Meteor strikes shake areas of the Earth both uninhabited and inhabited by different people, including those with MS. This time I was there as I reside in the town of Chebarkul, 80 km to the west of Chelyabinsk in the Urals region of Russia.

Last Friday, my town became known all over the world. In the past when asked about where I live, I would cautiously answer ‘Chelyabinsk’ and not ‘Chebarkul’, since it would usually require long explanations about what part of Russia I meant. Things have changed dramatically thanks to a meteorite flying by.

That morning I was having breakfast when a blinding flash of light from outside caught my eye. Then I heard a heavy blast followed by minor ones that sounded like fireworks. But fireworks in the morning?! Probably not. Neither could it be a nuclear explosion, I wouldn’t have had time to think all about that then. Maybe industrial malfunction? Feeling calmer I finished my tea, and it was two hours until a friend phoned and made me smell the coffee with the announcement ‘Meteorite!’

I wouldn’t say cell phones stopped working then, but I had difficulty reaching my relatives. My sister who lives in Chelyabinsk told me that they had two broken windows in their apartment. Thankfully there were no casualties though, only severe cuts and shock. Some of the debris from the meteor plunged into Lake Chebarkul, which is about a mile from my house. The falling meteor left a six-metre wide crater in the ice. This made the lake famous almost immediately. Although the divers found nothing in the crater and on the lake bed the next day, parts found nearby have been confirmed to belong to the meteorite. The first piece found was named ‘Chebarkul’.

The fame doesn’t lead to pleasure alone. My friends and I have had to answer quite a few questions. One of the my friends, when asked about the meteorite strike for the umpteenth time, joked ‘Oh, yes! The falling meteorite broke through the ice and got stuck with the water around it boiling!’

All jokes aside, we were about to convene for World MS Day (WMSD) 2013 in Chebarkul. It is a lucky coincidence or maybe divine providence. My colleagues, knowing that I can’t travel far from home, agreed to organise a WMSD event near my town. After the meteor visit, nobody doubts that this was a wise decision. Well, Heaven pointed to Chebarkul, didn’t it?

Many people in Russia and beyond will be happy to come and see where the meteorite crashed, and I dare hope, to hold a great event for WMSD. Dr Yan Vlasov, President of the All-Russian MS Society, agreed that more people might participate in the WMSD event in Chebarkul than expected. It could be short notice, but we would really like to welcome our overseas colleagues – after all, meteorites and other space objects don’t fall to Earth very often, do they?”

Pavel Zlobin
All-Russian MS Society