Meteor injures up to 1,000 in Russia

A Russian policeman works near an ice hole, said by the interior ministry department for Chelyabinsk region to be the point of impact of a meteor seen earlier in the Urals region. Photograph: Chelyabinsk region interior ministry/Reuters

A Russian policeman works near an ice hole, said by the interior ministry department for Chelyabinsk region to be the point of impact of a meteor seen earlier in the Urals region. Photograph: Chelyabinsk region interior ministry/Reuters

Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 00:00

Almost 1,000 people were injured when a meteor shot across the sky over the Ural mountains in central Russia this morning, sending a huge shockwave and fireballs crashing to Earth.

Residents on their way to work in Chelyabinsk heard what sounded like an explosion, saw a bright light and then felt a shockwave, according to reports from the industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow. 

The Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000km/h and shattered about 50kms above ground, causing a massive sonic boom.  The meteor raced across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg.

"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev (36), a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains. "I felt like I was blinded by headlights."

Chelyabinsk health chief Marina Moskvicheva, said 985 people in the city had asked for medical assistance. Forty-three were taken to hospital. No fatalities were reported.  

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