RIA Novosti, RT (Russia), BBC (UK)
CHELYABINSK – A large meteorite shower has injured at least 550 people and wreaked havoc across three Russian regions and Kazakhstan.
"The Russian Urals region has been stricken by a sudden cosmic attack. Unidentified flying objects exploded over several major cities, including Chelyabinsk, where the blast waves blew out windows and disrupted mobile connections," wrote RT. According to the police, 550 people have been treated for minor injuries, and 112 have been hospitalized.
Most of the damage remained superficial, according to the BBC, with the wounded mostly being injured by glass fragments from windows shattering in the city of Chelyabinsk, which suffered a direct meteor impact.
“At first I saw a huge bright fire up in the skies, and then came a loud explosion that not only shattered the windows, but blew out the window frames,” Taisiya Alabuzhina told RT.
“My heart is still beating 200 heartbeats a minute! … I saw this terrible flash, it was red-orange! My eyes are still hurting,” a witness from Chelyabinsk wrote on a local web forum. “I turned off all the lights, sat the kids on a couch and waited… Oh, my God, I thought the war had begun.”
The meteorite explosion sent animals in the Chelyabinsk zoo into a panic. Wolves and horses were reportedly the most agitated, but have now been calmed.
The Russian Academy of Science said the meteorite weighed 10 tons before it entered the earth's atmosphere, reports RT. Russian military have discovered a six-meter crater. According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the meteorite exploded nine times before falling to earth.
Watch the video recorded by a dashboard expand=1] cam in the Sverdlovsk region:
A factory was directly hit by the meteorite fragments. A Russian twitter user caught the aftermath:
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A Yekaterinburg resident recorded expand=1] the impact on his way to work: “It suddenly became as bright as if it was day,” he says.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who was giving a speech at an economic forum in Siberia, said “it is a demonstration that it is not only the economy that is vulnerable, but our planet as well,” reports RIA Novosti.
The meteorite blast may be connected to the 2012DA14 asteroid, which will pass close to Earth tonight, Tatyana Borisevich from Pulkovo Observatory told Itar-Tass, reports RT.