An unmanned Russian supply ship bound for the International Space Station failed to reach its planned orbit Wednesday, and pieces of it fell in Siberia amid a thunderous explosion, officials said.
A brief statement from Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, did not specify whether the Progress supply ship that was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan had been lost. But the state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Alexander Borisov, head of a the Choisky region in Russia's Altai province, as saying pieces of the craft fell in his area some 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) northeast of the launch site.
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"The explosion was so strong that for 100 kilometers (60 miles) glass almost flew out of the windows," he was quoted as saying. Borisov said there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Choisky's Interior Ministry as saying the space ship crashed in a vast Siberian forest that contains small villages. Yuri Shmyrin, the chief of Karakoksha, one of those villages, told Interfax news agency that the search operation for the wreckage is not likely to start until Thursday morning.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry could not be reached for comment. A Roscosmos media officer who refused to be identified said the agency had no immediate comment.
Roscosmos said the third stage of the rocket firing the ship into space failed a few minutes into the launch. The ship was carrying more than 2.5 tons of supplies, including oxygen, food and fuel
. Since the ending of the U.S. space shuttle program this summer, Russian spaceships are a main supply link to the space station. It was the 44th Progress to launch to the International Space Station.
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