A meteor streaked across the sky and exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb Friday, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring nearly 1,000 people.
The spectacle deeply frightened many Russians, with some elderly women declaring that the world was coming to an end.
The meteor — estimated to be about 10 tons — entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph and shattered into pieces about 30-50 kilometres above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, just after sunrise, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
A Russian health official says nearly 1,000 people have sought help for injuries.
More than 500 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, shattering windows and damaging buildings.
People heading to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave according to a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow.
A fireball blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phone networks were interrupted.
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he said.
No fatalities were reported but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed.
A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday’s events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles) but this was not confirmed.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said the meteorite was travelling at a speed of 30 km (19 miles) per second and that such events were hard to predict. The Interior Ministry said the meteorite explosion had caused a sonic boom.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of those were kept in hospital. Search groups were set up to look for the remains of the meteorite.
"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," said Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry.
WINDOWS BREAK, FRAMES BUCKLE
Windows were shattered on Chelyabinsk’s central Lenin Street and some of the frames of shop fronts buckled.
A loud noise, resembling an explosion, rang out at around 9.20 a.m. (12:20 a.m. ET). The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city’s center.
"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," said Andrei, a local resident who did not give his second name. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows."
A wall was damaged at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant but a spokeswoman said there was no environmental threat.
Although such events are rare, a meteorite is thought to have devastated an area of more than 2,000 sq km (1,250 miles) in Siberia in 1908, smashing windows as far as 200 km (125 miles) from the point of impact.
The Emergencies Ministry described Friday’s events as a "meteor shower in the form of fireballs" and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic.
Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up their children from schools and kindergartens. They said what sounded like a blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000 meters (32,800 feet).
The U.S. space agency NASA has said an asteroid known as 2012 DA14, about 46 meters in diameter, would have an encounter with Earth closer than any asteroid since scientists began routinely monitoring them about 15 years ago.
Television, weather and communications satellites fly about 500 miles higher. The moon is 14 times farther away.
60 Years of Research Links Gluten Grains to Schizophrenia 2015-03-31 1:05
Does the consumption of gluten-containing grains contribute to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia?
Believe it or not, this question has been asked for well over 60 years by researchers who stumbled upon evidence that the removal of gluten from the diet results in improved symptoms, or conversely, that gluten grain consumption leads to higher prevalence of both neurological and psychiatric problems.
A Sour Deception: Citric Acid Comes From GMO Black Mold, Not Fruit 2015-03-30 23:32
Just what is your food made of, anyway? Try industrial synthesis, genetically modified mold secretions, hydrochloric acid, mercury-contaminated caustic soda, ferrocyanideâ€¦ and, of course, lots of GMO corn.
If common ingredients like â€ścitric acidâ€ť and â€śascorbic acid (Vitamin C)â€ť sound normal and familiar enough that you practically conjure up an image of the flourishing orchard they were grown in â€“ then ...
Thousands of migrants dumped on Britain as French wriggle out of border promise 2015-03-30 19:56
Thousands of migrants could be dumped on Britainâ€™s doorstep if France tears up a historic border agreement, it was claimed last night.
Officials have vowed to do â€śeverything in their powerâ€ť to wriggle out of a treaty moving the UK border to Calais.
The besieged townâ€™s mayor Natacha Bouchart is prepared to spark a major diplomatic row by opening the frontier ...
Richard III laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral 2015-03-30 18:36
King Richard III was today laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral - more than 500 years after his death in battle.
The monarch, who reigned from 1483 to 1485, was the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem by Carol Ann Duffy during the service. Also in attendance was Robert Lindsay, who played Richard III in a version ...
Sweden - A new paradise for Romani beggars 2015-03-30 17:33
Thanks to the European Union and freedom of movement that follows with membership Sweden has been flooded with gypsies from Eastern Europe.
Most member states have cracked down hard on the phenomenon of organized begging with legislation and forceful evictions so the Romani (colloquially known as Gypsies) who are engaged in this venture have moved their business to the country where ...