Meteor hits Russia; about 1,000 injured
MOSCOW: A plunging meteor exploded with a blinding flash above central Russia on Friday, setting off a shockwave that shattered windows and hurt almost 1,000 people in an event unprecedented in modern times.
Experts insisted the meteor’s fiery entry into the atmosphere was not linked to an asteroid that was expected to pass about 17,200 miles above the Earth in an unusually close approach.
But the extraordinary event brought morning traffic to a sudden halt in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk as shocked drivers stopped to watch the falling meteor partially burning up in the lower atmosphere.
The fall of such a large meteor estimated as weighing dozens of tonnes was extremely rare, while the number of casualties as a consequence of its burning up around a heavily-inhabited area was unprecedented.
Chelyabinsk regional governor Mikhail Yurevich, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, said 950 people were injured, with two-thirds of the injuries light wounds from glass shards and other materials blown out by the shockwave.
Windows were blown out by the shockwave across the city with the ministry saying almost 300 buildings were damaged including schools, hospitals, a zinc factory and even an ice hockey stadium.
“At 9.20am an object was observed above Chelyabinsk which flew by at great speed and left a trail behind.
“Within two minutes there were two bangs,” regional emergencies official Yuri Burenko said in a statement. —AFP