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The Tunguska Event: Eyewitness Account

I. V. Kolmakov, Panovskoye

Letter to L. A. Kulik, 10 February 1922:

I was in the taiga in the north, in the Stony Tunguska [basin], in the Baykit locality at a distance ... of 600 versts[1] from the village of Panovskoye ... There in 1908 in the middle of June[2] at eight in the morning an unbelievable phenomenon took place, resembling the sound of cannon shots and the rumble of powerful thunder, which brought with it a quaking of the earth. The day was clear at that time, with bright sunshine. This [rumbling] continued nearly a quarter of an hour. During my ride out into the inhabited areas I came to talk with several individuals about this, and it turned out that, at the same time, this phenomenon had occurred across an enormous distance. And besides that, I had a conversation on this subject with an aborigine (a Tungus), who recounted the following:

Along the same Tunguska [river], in the place where the Chambe creek flows into it ... at the time of that same storm or thunder several aborigines had had up to a thousand of their reindeer killed, and the remainder severely injured, and also the aborigines themselves had suffered from the powerful impact and, besides that, for approximately 70 versts all around, the whole forest was destroyed, and right there the impact tore a tumult of water out of the ground which dried up after several days, but the aborigines didn’t examine the place where the water was drawn out.

— translated by Bill DeSmedt

copyright (c) 2004 by amber productions, inc.


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[1] One verst equals 3,500 feet. [Return to text.]

[2] What is the “middle of June” by the old (Julian) calendar then in use in czarist Russia would be the end of June by the modern (Gregorian) calendar, which is thirteen days later.[Return to text.]


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copyright (c) 2004 by amber productions, inc.