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MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) – Emergency services have repaired most of the damage caused by a meteor that shook Russia’s Urals Region, the regional Emergencies Center reported on Sunday.
A flaming meteorite streaked across the sky and slammed into central Russia on February 15 with a massive boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people in the area.
“As of February 24, restoration works were 78 percent complete. Radiation background levels are normal,” the Emergencies Center said.
Since the works began, windows have been mended in over 5,700 buildings, including more than 4,700 residential buildings, 187 health care organizations, 609 educational establishments, 19 social and 79 cultural facilities.
Over 24,000 workers and 4,300 pieces of equipment are involved in the effort to clear up the damage, which is estimated at 1 billion rubles ($33 million).
NASA said the meteorite released about 500 kilotons of energy when it exploded in the atmosphere, though the Russian Academy of Sciences gave a preliminary estimate of between 100 and 200 kilotons.
Meanwhile, some entrepreneurial minds found a way of capitalizing on the celestial body: In addition to numerous meteorite fragments of questionable provenance put up on sale by various dealers, a company reportedly headed by the leader of Chelyabinsk Lutheran community applied to register several meteorite-related brands for a range of foodstuffs, Russia’s patent agency said on Friday.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.