At 09:30 local time, a very big meteor burned up over Chelyabinsk, a city in Russia just east of the Ural Mountains, and about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. Several videos and reports show the explosion. The BBC is reporting that windows were shattered and even some school children may have been hurt, probably by the flying glass.
A meteorite was observed in the sky over Russia’s Urals region, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesperson Yelena Smirnykh told Interfax.
“What happened over the Urals region was not a meteor shower, as was reported earlier. It was a meteorite, which burned up as it passed through the lower layers of the Earth atmosphere. However, it triggered an impact wave, which smashed windows in several houses in the region,” she said.
The fireball was incredibly bright, rivaling the Sun! There was a pretty big sonic boom from the fireball, which set off car alarms.
“There has been no increase in radiation levels. They remain normal. The meteorite did not effect them,” Smirnykh said.
Also there is reports that some pieces have fallen to the ground, but again as I write this those are unconfirmed. The accident did not cause any disruption to mobile network operations in the region.
Meteorite pieces are not expected to actually fall to the Earth. However, regional emergency services have been put on high alert, the spokesperson said. Witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had struck at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.
Officials told Reuters that the object exploded at about 32,000 feet above the Earth. Atmospheric phenomena have been registered in the cities of Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen.
Office buildings in downtown Chelyabinsk are being evacuated. The regional Emergency Ministry said the phenomenon was a meteorite shower, but locals have speculated that it was a military fighter jet crash or a missile explosion.
“According to preliminary data, the flashes seen over the Urals were caused by [a] meteorite shower,” the Emergency Ministry told Itar-Tass news agency.
“My heart was pounding watching those. I have to admit, at first I was thinking this was an elaborate hoax, but the reports are coming in from everywhere. The videos show it at many different angles.”
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 600 square meters of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.
The Emergency Ministry said 102 people had phone in asking for medical assistance, with a factory roof also collapsing.
Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies.
“According to preliminary information, four people have been injured by flying glass,” it said.
“At 11:00 am local time (4pm AEDT) we received numerous calls of panic, power cuts and contusions,” Interfax cited the local government as saying.
“All Rosatom enterprises located in the Urals region – including the Mayak complex – are working as normal,” an unnamed Rosatom spokesman told Interfax.
The emergencies ministry said radiation levels in the region also did not change and that 20,000 rescue workers had been dispatched to help the injured and locate those required help.
The defense ministry meanwhile said it had sent soldiers “to the sites of impact.”