Meteor Shower Explodes in Central Russia and Ural, Leaves More than 1,000 Injured [Gallery]

A meteor streaked through the skies above Russia’s Urals region Friday morning before exploding with a flash and boom that shattered glass in buildings and left about 1,000 people hurt, authorities said.

  • Damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruDamage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • Damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruDamage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • Workers repair damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruWorkers repair damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • Damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruDamage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • A woman removes shards of glass from the frame of a broken window following sightings of a falling object in the sky in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruA woman removes shards of glass from the frame of a broken window following sightings of a falling object in the sky in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • Damage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruDamage caused after a meteorite passed above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru
  • The trail of a falling object is seen above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, in this view from a residential apartment February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ruThe trail of a falling object is seen above the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, in this view from a residential apartment February 15, 2013. Photo: Chelyabinsk.ru

The meteoroid – estimated to be about 10 tons – entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000mph, producing a sonic boom. It shattered into pieces between 18-32 miles above the ground, showering the Urals city of Chelyabinsk with debris.

The largest recorded meteor strike in more than a century occurred hours before a 150-foot asteroid passed within about 17,000 miles (28,000 kilometers) of Earth.

The European Space Agency said its experts had determined there was no connection between the asteroid and the Russian meteor – just cosmic coincidence.

The blast caused widespread panic, damaged buildings, blew out thousands of windows and lead hundreds to seek medical attention for minor injuries.

Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million around 900 miles east of Moscow, said:

“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening.

“We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud, thundering sound.”

A warehouse wall at a zinc factory in the industrial city collapsed from the force of the shock wave and almost 300 buildings had their windows blown out.

About 3,000 buildings were damaged – mostly with broken glass – as a result of the shock waves caused by the blast.

Vladimir Stepanov, of the National Center for Emergency Situations at the Russian Interior Ministry, earlier told state media that hospitals, kindergartens and schools were among those affected.

Meteorite fragments have damaged 2,962 buildings including 34 healthcare facilities, 11 social security institutions and 361 school and pre-school educational institutions, Russian Emergencies Ministry said.

The Interior Ministry said about 1,100 people sought medical care after the shock wave and 48 were hospitalized. Most of the injuries were caused by flying glass, officials said.

A spokesman for the Emergency Ministry for the Chelyabinsk region told CNN earlier Friday that 524 people there were injured and 34 hospitalized

No deaths were reported but the Emergencies Ministry said 20,000 rescue and clean-up workers were sent to the region after President Vladimir Putin told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov to ease the disruption and help the victims, reports Reuters.

Police cordoned off a six-metre wide hole in the ice in a lake near the town of Chebarkul, 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk. Small shards of the meteorite were found at its edge. The interior ministry said it had identified two other landing sites.

Scientists estimated the meteor unleashed a force 20 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, although the space rock exploded at a much higher altitude. Amy Mainzer, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the atmosphere acted as a shield.

The fireball that hit Russia’s Urals is the largest rock to strike the planet since 1908. The blast was even more powerful than North Korea’s recent nuclear test.

Unlike the Russian Academy of Science, it estimated that the mass of the fireball was around 40 tons before it entered the atmosphere. Russian scientists put the mass at 10 tons.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, promised “immediate” aid for people affected by the meteoroid blast, noting that schools and factories had been damaged, says the Telegraph.

Share This article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.