Published: February 17. 2013 4:00AM PST
Cars drive past a zinc factory building with part of its roof collapsed in Chelyabinsk on Saturday. As a small army of people worked to replace acres of windows shattered by the enormous explosion from a meteor, many joked about what had happened in this troubled pocket of Russia.
One of the most popular jests: Residents of the meteor were terrified to see Chelyabinsk approaching.
The fireball that streaked into the sky over this tough industrial city at about sunrise Friday was undeniably traumatic. Nearly 1,200 people were reportedly injured by the shock wave from the explosion, estimated to be 20 times as strong as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
But it also brought a sense of cooperation in a troubled region. Large numbers of volunteers came forward to help fix the damage caused by the explosion and many residents came together on the Internet — first to find out what happened and soon to make jokes.
Chelyabinsk, nicknamed Tankograd because it produced the famed Soviet T-34 tanks, can be as grim as its backbone of heavy industry. Long winters where temperatures routinely hit minus-22 Fahrenheit add to a general dour mien, as do worries about dangerous facilities in the surrounding region.
Laura Mills / The Associated Press