Saturday, February 16, 2013
As a small army of people works to replace acres of windows shattered by the enormous explosion from a meteor, many are joking about what had happened in a particularly troubled pocket of Russia.
One of the most popular jests: Residents of the meteor were terrified to see Chelyabinsk approaching.
The fireball that streaked into the sky over the tough industrial city at about sunrise Friday was undeniably traumatic. Nearly 1,200 people were reported injured by the shock wave from the explosion, estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
But it also brought a sense of cooperation in a troubled region. Large numbers of volunteers came forward to help fix the damage caused by the explosion and many residents came together on the Internet -- first to find out what happened and soon to make jokes.
Chelyabinsk, nicknamed Tankograd because it produced the famed Soviet T-34 tanks, can be as grim as its backbone heavy industries. Long winters where temperatures routinely hit minus-22 Fahrenheit add to a general dour mien.
Officials estimate damage from the high-altitude explosion at $33 million.