News Column

Putin Discusses Urals Meteorite Fall

Feb 15, 2013

Text of "Working meeting with Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov 15 February 2013, the Kremlin, Moscow" published in English by Russian presidential website on 15 February

Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Natural Disasters Relief [Emergencies Minister] Vladimir Puchkov.

The situation in Chelyabinsk Region following the meteorite hit was the subject of discussion. Mr Puchkov said that more than 290 homes and a number of industrial sites and social facilities were damaged by the impact wave. More than 500 people have sought medical assistance.

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PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Puchkov, this morning we already discussed what happened in the Urals, the meteorite that fell in Chelyabinsk Region.

The astronomy side of this event is of interest to the specialists of course, but of greatest priority to us, and to your ministry, is the question of warning the public about such events insofar as is possible of course. As I understand it, there is no effective monitoring system in place in the world as yet.

I want to discuss with you the consequences of this event now. Regrettably, it has disrupted the normal functioning of a number of industrial sites, people have been injured and social infrastructure such as schools and kindergartens have suffered damage too.

We need to do everything we can now to first of all make an objective assessment of the damage. I spoke half an hour ago with the Chelyabinsk Region authorities. People are working there, working in the regions. Thankfully, we have managed to avoid actual collapse of any large buildings in any of the areas affected, but people have been injured. Helping people has to be our top priority now, and we need to decide not just how to help, but need to act immediately.

I know that the regional authorities are in touch with you and your people and are busy at work. I'd like to hear how the damage situation looks now and what is being done to get facilities and industry working normally again and help people. I am talking about help for our citizens, for specific individuals, of course, and also what is being done about the social facilities. You will also need to look at the housing stock and the situation there.

MINISTER OF CIVIL DEFENCE, EMERGENCIES AND NATURAL DISASTERS RELIEF VLADIMIR PUCHKOV: Mr President, the breakup of a meteorite at 7.20 this morning created an emergency situation in the Urals Federal District. The Volga Federal District was also partially affected.

Chelyabinsk Region suffered the greatest damage. The impact wave and blast damaged around 297 homes, 12 schools, a number of other social facilities, and some industrial sites.

A crisis management system was rapidly put in place, the Chelyabinsk emergency situations commission met, and so did the working group of the government commission for disaster prevention and relief.

An operations group numbering more than 20,000 people is at work now, with 3,000 pieces of equipment and 8 aircraft at their disposal. Our priority task is to get practical help to the people in the disaster zone and ensure they have all the essentials for life.

We recommended that a number of enterprises stop work so that people can go home, assess the damage, and take the needed heat insulation measures. A lot of buildings have had windows shattered. The daytime temperature there is minus five and this is expected to drop at night, and so keeping people warm is one of our most urgent priorities.

Mobile medical brigades have been sent out to help the injured. More than 500 people have come seeking medical help so far, and 112 people, including 80 children, have been hospitalised. We have organized all necessary assistance and support.

The energy, transport, communications, and air traffic systems are all working without disruption. No increase in radiation levels or levels of hazardous chemicals has been registered, but we have nevertheless sent out mobile groups across the whole emergency zone to monitor the situation.

I ask for your approval for the government commission's working group to fly to the emergency zone to take further measures and provide the needed federal assistance.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: The local and regional authorities say they have the situation under control, but it would still be a good thing for your specialists to fly out there. You need to asses all possible damage not only to the communications and social infrastructure, but also to the energy systems, which are especially crucial during the winter period. Go ahead then and send the group out as soon as possible.

Talk too with your colleagues in the other ministries and agencies, including the Healthcare Ministry. Have them provide the region with any assistance as necessary too.

VLADIMIR PUCHKOV: Yes. Everything will be done.



Source: (C) 2013 BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved


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