The Tunguska Incident of the early 20th century remains one of the most intriguing “near-miss” events in human history. The notion that a meteor exploded several miles over the forests of the Tunguska region in Siberia is accepted by most. However, there remain small pockets of researchers who suggest that something else may indeed be responsible.
Before we look at some of the claims from Siberia in the summer of 1908, let’s explore some of the basic facts. If only to appreciate just how close a call the event actually was.
Related: 10 Times A Meteor Fell To Earth And Flew Back Into Space
10 The Nearest the Modern World Came to a Cataclysmic Event
There have been several incidents throughout the 20th century similar to the events that occurred a little after 7 am on June 30, 1908. Most largely agree, though, that the Tunguska incident is the closest the “modern world” has come to a truly catastrophic event. One that could have wiped out the human race. That nobody was killed was simply pure luck. As was the fact that the explosion occurred in the unpopulated northern regions of Russia. Had it been over a major city such as Moscow, the entire city and the outskirts would have been flattened. And the loss of life would have most likely been in the millions, if not worse.
Even so, plenty of people in the immediate vicinity still felt and saw the results of the explosion. For example, many residents of the villages around the area would state they could see a “pillar of fire” in the distance. And some even felt the shock waves, some of which were so powerful they would knock the witnesses to the ground. Others also spoke of hot wind gusts that came through the area shortly after the sound of the explosion.
9 It Exploded in the Air
What is also important to remember is that the meteorite didn’t actually crash into the ground itself. Instead, it exploded several miles in the air above the trees of the forests. This conclusion would take several years to arrive at, though. This was due to several delays in deploying a scientific research team to the area.
When they finally did arrive, they would discover the desolation of the forests. They also noticed how the trees were seemingly bent sideways in the same identical manner as if they had been snapped. Scientists would estimate that the meteorite exploded between three and six miles above the ground. The massive shockwave that followed then caused the destruction of the woodland below. In total, almost 800 square miles of forest were wiped away.
Just to further demonstrate how devastating the impact was—and how much worse it might have been—scientists would state that shockwaves from the explosion went around the world two full times before finally settling down.
8 The Impact Was Felt as Far as Europe
As well as the press of the Asian continent, those of Europe would report on the incident. After all, residents there also felt the aftereffects. Perhaps one of the best descriptions came from F.J.W. Whipple. He would write of the incident in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in 1934. He stated that for several nights after the explosion, the night skies in Sweden were aglow as if it were day. He continued that “very good photographs could be taken at midnight.”
He wasn’t the only Swedish witness to note the drastic change in the nighttime conditions. Another unnamed witness reported that “one could read the minutest lettering,” such was the brightness of the night sky.
The aftereffects, then and now, were truly unique. Once more, we should perhaps contemplate the devastation had the explosion taken place a little further west. And what the aftereffects would have been for Europe and the rest of the world.
7 The Strange Noises of Two Weeks Before
While it wasn’t widely reported, there were accounts of strange events exactly two weeks before the explosion. These occurred in the nearby village of Karelinski. A story in one of the local newspapers claimed that a “bright bluish-white heavenly body” was witnessed by the “peasants in the village.” What’s more, this light appeared to be under intelligent control and in the shape of a “pipe.”
It remained visible for ten minutes. Then, a sudden sound similar to military gunfire was heard in the distance. The blue-glowing craft suddenly changed from intensely bright to a smoky, black color. It would ultimately turn into a ball of smoke. Strangest of all, however, was a shaking feeling coming from within the ground before flames and bizarre shapes appeared in the skies overhead.
Whether of consequence of not, there were also several reports of this military-style gunfire in the hours leading up to the Tunguska incident.
6 A “Crippled Spacecraft” Exploded!
Some of the most outlandish claims regarding the incident would come from Alexander Kasantsev. Although perhaps through no fault of his own. He would become the subject of a secondary conspiracy. According to some researchers, he hid these beliefs in his works of fiction, including Explosion.
Many shake their head at such claims as bordering on lunacy. And perhaps rightly so. The thought process behind them, however, is intriguing. Not the least due to the fact that Soviet authorities appeared to frown on those who made attempts to give too much credence to the UFO mysteries.
In short, it was seemingly the author’s belief that a “crippled spacecraft” was responsible for the devastation in the region. And what’s more, it was likely a spacecraft using some kind of nuclear energy or propulsion system.
Most would dismiss such theories. However, several other scientists and researchers would also conclude that some kind of nuclear explosion had taken place
5 The Claims of Felix Zigel and Alexis Zolotov
There is no doubt that researchers and scientists had begun to make such outlandish suggestions. However, Felix Zigel and Alexis Zolotov would take such claims to the next level. For example, their extensive research of the location would suggest that the “blast zone” was distinctly oval-shaped—much like descriptions of typical UFOs.
Furthermore, Zolotov would discover a “metallic presence” in the soil of the blast zone. This would further strengthen, in their opinion, the idea that a nuclear-powered alien craft had exploded overhead.
Their conviction was strengthened even more when they obtained witness testimony from locals. Some would claim to have seen a “fireball” that changed direction in the skies several different times on the morning of the explosion. This was corroborated, according to Zigel, by a report from the Tatranska Observatory in Poland. They claimed they had indeed tracked a strange object. And what’s more, it changed direction several different times.
4 The Valley of Death—The Copper Cauldrons Mystery
Without a doubt, one of the most bizarre theories surrounding the Tunguska Incident revolves around the equally mysterious Valley of Death. This is an area that, for hundreds of years, has been home to legends that stretch back to antiquity.
The route was used by traders and smugglers alike. And many would speak of witnessing odd incidents in the region. Furthermore, many would talk about strange, copper “cauldron-like” devices in the ground. So large that a person on horseback could enter inside. However, many who chose to spend the night in these bizarre shelters would become unwell. They would ultimately suffer intense sickness and symptoms similar to radiation poisoning.
Many of the legends also recount these strange cauldrons firing intense “balls of fire” toward a powerful enemy in the sky. Some researchers suggest these devices are some kind of ancient, alien defense weapon. And what’s more, some even suggest that these ancient weapons were active on the morning of June 30, 1908. Perhaps we should recall the strange “gunfire” sounds on the same day.
3 The Ill-Fated 2013 Visok Expedition
In 2013, Michale Visok would identify what he believed were strange circular impressions deep within the Valley of Death region of Siberia. Shortly after, he would lead an expedition to the area to get to the bottom of the strange legends. When they examined some of these circular anomalies up-close, they would discover a metallic presence that they couldn’t readily explain.
However, after only several hours in the region and before further study could take place, Visok began to feel intense nausea and dizziness. These were very similar to the symptoms described in the numerous legends of the area passed on by smugglers and traders. What’s more, out of nowhere, the weather suddenly changed. This would force the team to cut the expedition short and leave the area.
Incidentally, Visok would make a full recovery in the hours following the incident. Medics were at a loss as to explain his sudden illness.
2 The Discovery of the Crystal Remains of an Alien “Technical Device”
In the early 2000s, a claim from a researcher, Yuri Lavbin, would cause a stir. He claimed to have in his possession several strange crystal blocks. And what’s more, these were of an alien “technical device” and came from the blast zone region.
Some of these crystals had strange pictures and precise holes in them. That no technology exists, according to Lavbin, that could recreate such precise images on crystals surely confirmed their alien origin.
Several years later, he would go even further when he suggested that the alien craft had purposely collided with an approaching meteor. This caused the explosion above the forest of Siberia, in turn, saving humanity from certain disaster. Some in the UFO community are extremely open to Lavbin’s ideas and theories. It is, though, not too much of a surprise to find that most dismiss them entirely.
1 Other Modern Examples Of How Close We Come To A Global Wipe Out!
Perhaps a sobering thought is the fact that, while Tunguska is very much the worst of them, several other events have also been a little too close for comfort. The truth is, in relative terms, these incidents have been a cosmic millisecond away from absolute devastation. Without us even realizing it, our collective existence on Earth has come remarkably close to being instantly snuffed out.
For example, also in Russia, in the Sikhote-Alin Mountains in 1947, a large meteorite did make it to Earth. However, only a small amount remained after its entry into the planet’s atmosphere. Still enough to cause considerable shockwaves, though.
A very similar incident took place over the Curuca River in Brazil in 1930. All evidence appears to show that a meteor exploded overhead, leaving no crater to investigate. We only know of the incident today due to modern devices.
More recently, in February 2013, a similar heavenly body entered the atmosphere once more. And this time, it was captured on camera as it zoomed across the sky. It would explode just under 20 miles above the ground. The shockwaves, including shattered windows in nearby buildings, were also captured on film. 
Next time, we might not be so lucky, and such a meteor could explode over a city location or even strike the planet directly. Maybe only research into space-bound defense weapons will give us a chance to avoid this. Otherwise, it will be a matter of when and not if it happens.