WASHINGTON, June 26 (RAPSI) - Russia and the United States will work jointly to improve their meteorite protection systems, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov told journalists following a meeting of the US-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission's working group on emergency situations.

He said they had discussed the Russian experience of relief operations after the Chelyabinsk meteor shower.

"We have decided that the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Russia's Emergencies Ministry will work together to improve the system of protecting people and territory from cosmic impacts," Puchkov said.

This calls for creating new technology, he added.

"We need new systems of space and other types of monitoring, and we need to rally the efforts of experts, scientists and professionals. I believe we can make a technological breakthrough in this area if the Emergencies Ministry and FEMA supervise this project and attract the best minds and research groups, including in Canada, Europe, China and Southeast Asia," the Russian minister said.

On February 15 at 7:23 AM Moscow time, an observatory in Yekaterinburg, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Chelyabinsk, reported a meteor shower.

The meteor shower hit three regions of Russia and Kazakhstan. Dozens of people were hurt by broken window glass and debris. There were no fatalities, but over 1,500 people sought medical assistance.

The meteor shower damaged buildings in Chelyabinsk and neighboring towns, leaving over 5,000 buildings without window panes. The Chelyabinsk city government pledged to pay up to 50,000 rubles ($1,650) in compensation to meteor shower victims for housing repairs.

The local department of the Emergencies Ministry reported that the level of background radiation is normal.

Monitoring background radiation is crucial in an area with a large number of nuclear facilities. Scientists from the Urals Federal University and experts from a meteoritic astronomy laboratory who work in the region have found over 100 meteorite fragments.

Chemical analysis has established that they came from outer space.