A meteorite exploded over Russia’s Urals region on Friday, creating a impact wave that left around 1,000 people injured and blew out windows, Russia media reported.
Witnesses said that in the morning, they saw blinding flashes and heard a deafening thunder that shattered windows.
Videos uploaded to YouTube and other sites show a trail of what appears to be smoke before a loud blast is heard overhead, prompting car sirens to go off. Smaller blasts can be heard afterward.
Debris from the meteorite is said to have fallen in areas throughout the Russian region of Chelyabinsk, located is around 1,000 miles from the capital, Moscow, state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Approximately 1,000 people were hurt, including some 200 children, the news agency reported. Two people were reportedly in “grave” condition, according to the Russian interior ministry.
“The flashes in the lower layers of the atmosphere caused by a meteor shower were recorded above both the Urals and the Volga Federal District, the impact of which caused windows to shatter in the upper floors of buildings,” Yelena Smirnykh, the deputy chief of the Emergency Situations Ministry, was quoted as saying by the Moscow Times newspaper.
“According to confirmed data, it was a single meteor that began to burn upon approaching Earth and then burst into pieces,” Smirnykh added.
Some videos showed massive fireballs flying past buildings and exploding. A local zinc factory was hit the hardest, and some of its walls collapsed, state-run RT reported.
“All the city’s residents saw blinding flashes, very bright ones,” an unnamed local in the Chelyabinsk Region told state-run RIA Novosti. “Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright. Not like the lights got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual white light.”
Russian scientists compared the incident to the so-called Tunguska event, a massive explosion that caused by a meteor fragment that took place a century ago. Hundreds of miles of trees in northern Russia were leveled as a result.
“It looks like it was something like Tunguska–a 60-meter diameter cosmic body, which fell into the Tunguska taiga in 1908,” Professor Oleg Malkov, Head of the Star Clusters Physics Department at the Russian Science Academy Institute of Astronomy, was quoted by RT as saying.
NASA scientists said that the meteor was not related to the close asteroid fly-by also taking place on Friday.
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