About 400 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, Reuters reports.
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 a Reuters correspondent in the industrial city 1,500 km east of Moscow.
The meteorite raced across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 200 km (125 miles) away in Yekaterinburg. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phones worked only intermittently.
Chelyabinsk city authorities said about 400 people sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass.
No fatalities were reported but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed.
A local ministry official said the meteor shower may have been connected with an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool that was due to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles) but this could not be confirmed.
Windows were shattered on Chelyabinsk’s central Lenin Street and some of the frames of shop fronts buckled.
A loud noise, resembling an explosion, rang out at around 9.20 a.m. (0520 GMT). The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city’s centre.
The Emergencies Ministry described Friday’s events as a “meteor shower in the form of fireballs” and said background radiation levels were normal. It urged residents not to panic.
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 meters (32,800 feet), apparently signaling it occurred when the meteorite entered Earth’s atmosphere.