Around 950 people were injured on Friday when a meteor burned up above the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk, unleashing a shockwave that shattered panes of glass, the regional governor said.
Chelyabinsk regional governor Mikhail Yurevich, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency, said that two-thirds of the injuries were light wounds from pieces of glass and other materials.
In the city of Chelyabinsk alone, 758 people had required medical help, the city said in a statement on its website.
The meteor, which scientists estimate weighed 10-11 tonnes, streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor over Chelyabinsk entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 54,000 km per hour and shattered about 30-50km above ground.
“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were okay,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, 1,500km from Moscow.
The ITAR-Tass news agency cited military spokesman Yarslavl Roshupkin as saying that a 20-foot-wide crater was found in the same area which could be the result of fragments striking the ground.
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are travelling faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.
End of world fears
Life News website posted video footage of children screaming in Chelyabinsk School Number 15 corridor and glass and pieces of wood from blown-out windows lying on the floor.
“First there was an unreal light that lit up all the classrooms on the right side of the school. That kind of light doesn’t happen in life, only at the end of the world, then a trail appeared like from a plane but only 10 times bigger,” teacher Valentina Nikolayeva, told Life News.