- Large object flashed across the sky at 9.20am local time (03.20 UK time)
- Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames
- Four schoolchildren were known to have been injured from broken glass
A terrifying meteorite shower hit Russia early this morning injuring at least 100 people, including school children.
The Urals region was struck by falling meteorite fragments which fell in the city of Chelyabinsk.
A large object flashed across the sky at around 9.20am local time (03.20 UK time), evidently breaking into several pieces.
Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames.
Eyewitnesses spoke of several devastating explosions rocking buildings and shattering glass.
Four schoolchildren were known to have been injured from broken glass.
One eyewitness Gulnara Dudka, in her 20s, gave a dramatic account of the meteorite, telling how she feared ‘doomsday’ had arrived, reported the Siberian Times.
‘What was it? People said it was a plane that fell and exploded,’ she said.
‘I saw a bright blast from behind me. Everything was lit up, very bright light.
‘It was like from Armageddon movie when the meteorite rain started, I really thought it was like doomsday.
‘It was so scary especially the explosion. It was very strong. I am speechless. It was so strong. My camera couldn’t reproduce how strong the bang was.’
First reports suggested that there had been a plane crash but officials confirmed it was one or more meteorites falling to Earth.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN ASTEROID HITS: THE 1908 TUNGUSKA EVENT
On June 30 1908, in a remote part of Russia, a fireball was seen streaking across the daytime sky.
This event – now known as the Tunguska event – is believed to have been caused by an incoming meteor which exploded in the atmosphere.
Evenks natives and Russian settlers in the hills north-west of Lake Baikal reported a column of bluish light, nearly as bright as the sun, moving across the sky.
About 10 minutes later, there was a flash and a sound similar to artillery fire. Eyewitnesses closer to the explosion reported the sound source moving east to north.
The sounds were accompanied by a shockwave that knocked people off their feet and broke windows hundreds of miles away.
The majority of witnesses reported only the sounds and the tremors rather than the sighting of the explosion The explosion registered on seismic stations across Eurasia.
In some places the shock wave would have been equivalent to an earthquake of 5.0 on the Richter scale. It also produced fluctuations in atmospheric pressure strong enough to be detected in the UK.
Over the next few days, night skies in Asia and Europe were aglow – and all of this came from a meteorite exploding some four to six miles above the Earth’s surface.
Says Don Yeomans, manager of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: ‘The generally agreed upon theory is that on the morning of June 30, 1908, a large space rock, about 120 feet across, entered the atmosphere of Siberia and then detonated in the sky.’
The space objects struck on the same day that an unrelated giant asteroid is expected to fly safely past earth.
The meteorite apparently broke up, one part falling close to a school and another near a factory where cables were damaged either from the falling object or the associated explosion.
Reports also suggested fragments fell on Satka, 200km (120 miles) from Chelyabinsk, the regional capital.
Other reports suggested a meteorite shower.
‘I was sitting at home and typing something on my computer. Suddenly there was a huge bright flash,’ said Konstantin Zharinov, an historian and journalist from Chelyabinsk.
‘At first I thought something happened at my neighbours place but a minute later the sound of the explosion came.’
He said ‘ many lost their windows, glass is everywhere in the streets’.
The meteorite flew across the Russian sky from the direction of Kazakhstan, its trajectory going over southern Siberia, above the Tyumen, Kurgan and Sverdlovsk regions, said the head of the Urals regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry press service, Vadim Grebennikov.
‘At the moment we are checking the territories and counting how many towns and settlements suffered from it.
‘Preliminary information says the meteorite did not fall down but exploded in the air. ‘
Radiation levels were normal, said officials.
Residents in one 19 storey block reported feeling the shockwaves of the explosions.
The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, said a witness, and there were reports that the internet and mobile networks were temporarily down.
‘Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain,’ said an emergency official.
‘We have information about a blast at 10,000-meter (32,800-feet) altitude. It is being verified.’
The trace from a falling object could be seen in Yekaterinburg, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of Chelyabinsk, said a witness cited by Reuters.
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