July 31, 2014

Meteor falling over Russia injures at least 1,100 people

By Sayed Jawad - Fri Feb 15, 3:31 pm

Meteor falling over Russia injures at least 400 people

At least 1,100 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky in central Russia on Friday sending fireballs crashing to Earth, smashing windows and setting off car alarms.

According to the Russian emergency ministry, fragments of the meteor fell on Friday in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, in the Ural Mountains region.

“A meteorite disintegrated above the Urals [mountain range in central Russia], partially burning up in the lower atmosphere,” the local office of the national emergencies ministry said in a statement.

“Fragments of the meteorite reached Earth, falling in sparsely populated areas in the Chelyabinsk region,” it said.

Some meteorites — fragments of the meteor — fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor’s office said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments.

Amateur video showed a trail of smoke hanging in the sky followed by a loud bang.

The space agency estimates the blast over Chelyabinsk occurred at about 14-20 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, and that the energy released was equivalent to a 300-kiloton explosion.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said 102 people had called for medical assistance following the incident, mostly for treatment of injuries from glass broken by the explosions.

Kolsenikov also said about 6000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.

Chelyabinsk city authorities urged people to stay indoors unless they needed to pick up their children from schools and kindergartens. They said a blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000 metres, apparently signalling it occurred when the meteorite entered Earth’s atmosphere.

A 20,000-strong team has been sent to the Ural mountains as part of a rescue and clean-up operation after Friday’s meteor strike, Russia’s emergency, ministry says.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the operation to help some 1,200 people who were injured, including 200 children, mostly by shattered glass.

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