A WEBSITE that tells how far away you need to be if you are to survive an asteroid strike has been launched.
It shows how, if a 500- metre-wide porous rock asteroid hit Pontypridd, it would cause cataclysmic effects to anybody within 30 miles of the impact.
According to the Earth Impact Effects Program, anybody within a 10-mile radius, including most of the South Wales Valleys and parts of Cardiff, would burst into flames and suffer third degree burns.
A huge earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale would tear through homes and winds of 56 miles per hour would knock down forests. Deciduous trees, grass and newspapers would ignite and glass windows would shatter from the air blast.
If you lived up to 20 miles away in Newport, Bridgend or Merthyr Tydfil then you would suffer at least first degree burns and the effects of thermal radiation. Weak buildings would partially collapse and cracks would appear in wet ground and on steep slopes.
Even in towns as far west as Llanelli or as far north as Builth Wells, people could still be knocked off their feet and be hit by falling tree branches.
Although asteroids half a kilometre wide are rare, the site, launched at www.lpl.arizona.edu/impacteffects, shows what effects such an impact would have.
It was developed in the United States by experts at the University of Arizona to help scientists and members of the public alike. Montgomeryshire MP Lembit Opik welcomed the launch of the website.
"The reason this website is so important is it gives further scientific credibility to the study of future asteroid impacts and it gives easy access to information on how serious the threat is," he said.
"One of the remarkable things about this field is how many scientists are devoted to it even though politicians think they can ignore it. Hopefully this website will increase public concern and pressure so the government will start taking the threat seriously."
Although the chances of a large asteroid hitting earth are remote, the figures are not as small as some people think, said Mr Opik.
"A serious asteroid collision could happen at any time. It could be 100,000 years in the future or before readers finish this article.
"It's science fact you are 750 times more likely to die because of an asteroid collision than winning the national lottery on any given weekend. As the people from the National Lottery would say, it could happen to you."
But Major Jay Tate, director of the Spaceguard Centre in Knighton, near Llandrindod Wells, doesn not believe people should get carried away with the results of the website.
"You have to remember that we've only been studying the threat of asteroid collisions for a short length of time.
"The website programme is only a best guess of the effect an asteroid impact would have on the surrounding area."