London: At 7.17am on June 30, 1908, an explosion like a detonating hydrogen bomb had erupted in the forests of Siberia - and up till now, scientists had been unable to offer any conclusive explanation for the event.
Now Italian scientists claim to have found chunks of a meteorite, which might have caused the blast, from seismic and magnetic scans of nearby Lake Cheko.
Lake Cheko, they claim is an impact crater for the blast - which devastated nearly 1,000 square miles of forest and was detected hundreds of miles away.
The Tunguska event, or explosion, was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia - and was seen as far away as Britain
“This “Tunguska Event” is probably related to the impact with the Earth of a cosmic body that exploded about three to six miles above ground, releasing in the atmosphere 10-15 megatons of energy,” the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as saying.
Fragments of the impacting body have never been found, and its nature (comet or asteroid) is still a matter of debate.
“We report here results from a magnetic and seismic reflection study of a small lake, Lake Cheko, located about 8 km NW of the inferred explosion epicenter, that was proposed to be an impact crater left by a fragment of the Tunguska Cosmic Body,” the researchers said, from the University of Bologna in a paper published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems.
They claim to have detected a stony fragment in the lake that could be a remnant of the meteorite that caused the explosion.
Seismic reflection and magnetic data revealed an anomaly close to the lake center, about 30ft below the lake floor; this anomaly is compatible with the presence of a buried stony object and supports the impact crater origin for Lake Cheko.’
The explosion was so huge it was visible in Britain - and conspiracy theorists have claimed for decades it might have been caused by UFOs or other supernatural forces.
“The sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest,” a member of the local Evenki tribe remembered.
“The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire.
“At that moment I became so hot I couldn’t bear it, as if my shirt was on fire. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, and then the sky slammed shut. A strong thump sounded and I was thrown a few yards.’
For decades, scientists have debated what caused it - with one theory that a comet made of ice caused the blast, then evaporated.
But asteroid-like particles were found in nearby soil - but scientists were unable to pinpoint a precise location or cause for the blast.
Even the UFO conspiracy theorists are fiercely divided as to why, precisely, extraterrestrial creatures would have wanted to annihilate a great swathe of barely populated Siberian forest.
Some claim they were friendly aliens, keen to help out vulnerable Earthlings.
So the explosion was the result of an alien weapon shooting down a meteorite, which would have caused far more devastation if it had been allowed to impact.
The explosion sent an atmospheric shockwave twice around the world and turned night into day across Europe.
Britain was lit for several days by a beautiful white and yellow sky, bright enough for midnight games of cricket and golf across the country.
This phenomenon is now thought to have been due to sunlight scattered by dust from the fireball’s plume.