The Millennium ExperienceChronicle of the Future

Comet catastrophe

18.08.31: THE GERMAN nation was in mourning yesterday after a comet fragment hit the city of Frankfurt. The death toll is expected to exceed 100,000.

A swath of surrounding countryside was flattened by the explosion of a fragment of comet the size of a terrace of houses. 'It's far worse than Hiroshima,' says Dag Tegmark, director-general of Uni-Aid. The comet fragment was first spotted by spy satellites in low-Earth orbit. However, its speed was so great - estimates put it between 250,000 and 290,000kmh - that there was no possibility of issuing a useful warning.

People across a large area of western Europe reported a blinding blue fireball ripping through the sky before the comet fragment disintegrated at an altitude of 9.5 km. The sound of the blast, estimated to be equivalent to a 10-megaton bomb, was heard as far away as London, Rome and Moscow.

The United Nations is organising the biggest financial aid package to Germany since t