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Alternate History

The Saint Petersburg Event

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POD: In the early morning of June 30, 1908, a small comet or asteroid enters the atmosphere over the Russian Empire. In OTL this object explodes over the remote Siberian region of Tunguska; the ATL begins when the object enters the atmosphere a few minutes later than in OTL, resulting in the object not exploding in an airburst over the largely uninhabited Siberian taiga, but instead over the Russian capital of St Petersburg, killing just over one million inhabitants of the city, including the Russian Royal Family and much of the higher government institutions of the Russian Empire.


  • June 30, 1908: A large meteor or comet streaks into the atmosphere over Russia and explodes between five and ten km over St Petersburg, Russia. The explosion completely flattens St Petersburg and much of the surrounding countryside; the force of the event causes tremors that knock people off their feet as far away as Tallin and Helsinki. The shockwave from the airburst also strikes the Bay of Neva, displacing a massive amount of water and causing a six meter high tsunami to race through the Gulf of Finland, devastating the coastlands (especially the city of Helsinki) before dissipating slightly after reaching the main body of the Baltic. The waves cause damage across the Baltic, especially the low-lying southern coastline.
  • June 31, 1908: As the sea stills, cities across the Baltic take inventory of the damage. Saint Petersburg has been completely obliterated along with nearly all of its population and uncontrollable forest fires rage through the surrounding taiga, creating a plume of smoke that darkens skies and snows grim ashes for thousands of miles downwind. Tallinn and Helsinki suffer moderate damage from the tremors but heavy damage from the six meter tsunami; around four thousand die in Tallinn and just over three thousand die in Helsinki. Stockholm suffers relatively fewer casualties as its complex archipelago breaks much of the wave up. The cities of Danzig, Copenhagen, Kiel, and Riga also suffer moderate flooding and associated damage.
  • July 4, 1908: The fires surrounding St. Petersburg die enough for Russian soldiers to approach the remains of the city. The scouts report that, "No building has survived, no lives have been spared."

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