Meteorite Strikes Close To Home For Green Country Student From Russia

Friday, February 15th 2013, 11:19 pm
By: Tess Maune

Central Russia was awakened Friday morning by the flash and crash of a meteorite.

It exploded into splintering shrapnel, with a shock wave that blew out windows, rattled houses, and left about 1,000 people with some kind of injury.

For one Green Country student, pieces of the big hunk of iron didn't just hit close to home, literally.

Yulia Pashchenko is in the U.S. studying music and business at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

She was probably one of the first in the state to hear the news and she says she thought it was a joke, until she saw the video from her hometown.

It wasn't a sunrise that lit up the morning sky in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

"Pretty crazy, like out of a movie or something," Pashchenko said.

It was like the movie Armageddon, some are saying—only, it was real.

2/15/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Astronomy Club Gives Insight Into Near Earth Objects

A meteorite crashed through the Earth's atmosphere, hitting Yulia Pashchenko's hometown.

"At first they just saw a big flash of light and then maybe a minute later it was a big explosion," Pashchenko said.

Her family and many of her friends live in the mountainous city, and despite being separated by sea and about 6,000 miles, the shockwave rocked Pashchenko like she was there.

"I kept calling and calling and kept skyping them," she said. "I stayed up pretty much all night, because of the time difference, talking to everyone, making sure they were all okay."

Pashchenko said her parents told her the 30 minutes following the explosion were complete mayhem. Phone lines weren't working and parents were frantic.

"The panic—there was definitely a big panic going on, because they didn't know what happened and they were trying to get their kids. Kids were crying, I mean, I can't even imagine what was happening there," she said.

School had only been in session for a few hours when the meteorite ripped through the sky. Pashchenko's parents headed straight to school, to make sure her brother and sister were safe.

"They were all scared. My brother, he's 7, he was telling me there was a big boom. He said that a lot of kids started crying," Pashchenko said. "All the windows got broken in their classroom. Some kids got hurt in their class, just from the glass."

The injuries were mostly minor—cuts, scrapes and bruises. Because everyone is said to be okay, Pashchenko said those in her country are already joking about what happened, so she's laughing, too.

"Nothing can wake you up better than a meteorite. So, that's for sure, coffee and a meteorite," she said.

Pashchenko's father is a pastor. She said he held a prayer meeting and apparently had a much larger crowd than normal, so they're interested to see what Sunday might bring.