VIDEOS ABOUND ONLINE of the meteorite that struck the Russian Urals earlier today, with people capturing the scene from many different locations and angles – including from their cars.
Up to 950 people were reported to have been injured in the Chelyabinsk region, according to its Governor, RT said. Nearly 3,000 buildings were also damaged by the shower, with glass shattering in businesses and homes. Two people are in intensive care.
According to Associated Press, the meteor was estimated to be about 10 tons and entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph. It shattered about 30-50 kilometers above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
RT also noted that the head of the Russian Emergency Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, is to fly to Chelyabinsk for an emergency meeting on the meteor shower. Three municipalities of Chelyabinsk are in a state of emergency.
A lot of the amateur meteor videos were caught on dashboard cameras, a feature of many Russian road videos on YouTube.
But why are the dashboard cameras so prolific in Russia?
In a post on Animal, Russian ex-pat and journalist Marina Galperina offers a few reasons, which boil down to dangerous driving conditions and the unreliability of Russian traffic police.
Driving in Russia is hazardous: In 2011, 200,000 traffic accidents killed 28,000 people. Addressing those high levels in 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev blamed the “undisciplined, criminally careless behaviour of our drivers,” along with poor road conditions.
Drivers certainly play a role, but Medvedev did not mention Russia’s traffic police, which, Galperina writes, are “known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes.”
That is not hyperbole. Russia ranks 133rd among the world’s nations in corruption (where number one is the least corrupt), according to Transparency International. Much of that corruption is on the part of the traffic police, an institution that, along with kindergartens and higher education, was ranked by Russians as the country’s most corrupt. In a recent poll, 32 percent of Russians surveyed called traffic police the most corrupt institution.
Russian drivers must also contend with the possibility of being attacked by another driver. Then there are pedestrians who get themselves hit by cars on purpose, for a payoff.
All of these reasons go some way to explain why dashboard cameras are such a major feature in Russia – and how they help news about major events in Russia to go global, such as the Red Wings Airlines crash in December:
- Additional reporting by Business Insider