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The Tunguska Event, or Tunguska explosion, was a powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya (Lower Stony) Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia, at around 7:14 a.m. (0:14 UT, 7:02 a.m. local solar time on June 30, 1908 (June 17 in the Julian calendar, in use locally at the time).
The explosion was caused by the air burst of a large object, at an altitude of 510 kilometres (36 miles) above Earth's surface. Estimates of the energy of the blast range from 5 megatons to as high as 30 megatons of TNT, with 10 megatons the most likely about 1,000 times as powerful as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The explosion knocked over an estimated 80 million trees over 2,150 square kilometres (830 square miles). It is estimated that the earthquake from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale, which was not yet developed at the time. An explosion of this magnitude is capable of destroying a large metropolitan area.
There was little scientific curiosity about the impact at the time, in part due to the isolation of the Tunguska region and significant social and political upheaval affecting Russia.
The first recorded expedition arrived at the scene more than a decade after the event. In August 1920, famed Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik led a scientific expedition to the Tunguska region to investigate the site of the explosion. Kulik interviewed the native Evenki people who witnessed the event, whom they believed that a angry god, Agdy, had entered the atmosphere during the event. The scientist later shared that same foreboding feeling the natives felt as he and his party entered the vicinity of the blast site, and deduced from the locals that the explosion was caused by a large impact. A month later, Kulik and his travel party went missing after communication between them and the Academy of Science had cease. Despite an intensive search, Russian authorities had called off the search and believed Kulik and his party to be dead after recent severe Siberian winter prevented the search.
Twenty years after the event, many of the local Russian tribes developed legends of warfare on an epic scale, with entire villages and herds of animals wiped out, leaving only disease and death. One such legend even told of a local shaman suddenly transforming into a six-eyed eight foot tall monster, impervious to bullets and knives, and running off into the icy wastes. These accounts are the first early reports of the Chimera.
- Tunguska Event on Wikipedia.