MOSCOW – Russian divers Wednesday pulled from a murky lake in the Urals a half-ton suspected meteorite said to have been part of a meteor whose ground-shaking shockwave hurt 1,200 people in February.
The dramatic recovery operation came eight months after a piercing streak of light lit up the morning sky in the central Russian region of Chelyabinsk in scenes some locals said made them think of the onset of a nuclear war.
The meteor broke up into multiple pieces as it entered the atmosphere, scattering space debris across the industrial region, and scientists are finding pieces to this day.
Much of the meteor landed in a local lake called Chebarkul that the divers entered on Wednesday in an operation covered live on Russian television.
Live footage showed a team pull out a 1.5-meter-long (five-foot-long) rock from the lake after first wrapping it in a special casing while it was still underwater.
The boulder was then pulled ashore and placed on top of a massive scale for the all-important weighing — an operation that quickly went partially wrong.
The rock broke up into at least three large pieces as scientists began lifting it from the ground with the help of levers and ropes.
The scale itself broke the moment it hit the 570-kilogram (1,255-pound) mark.
“The rock had a fracture when we found it,” one unnamed scientists told the lifenews.ru website in a live transmission.
“It weighed 570 kilograms before the pieces fell off. And then the scale broke,” said the scientist.
“We think the whole thing weighs more than 600 kilograms,” he said.
Experts cautioned however that it will take time before scientists can certify that the rock they pulled from the lake had indeed come from outer space.
The Vesti 24 rolling news channel reported that divers had already recovered more than 12 pieces from Lake Chebarkul since the February 15 incident.