MOSCOW — A meteor streaked across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 400 people till now, including many hurt by broken glass.
Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, the Emergency Ministry said in a statement.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said 400 people had called for medical assistance following the incident, mostly for treatment of injuries from glass broken by the explosions.
MOMENT OF EXPLOSION
Kolsenikov also said about 600 square meters (6000 square feet) of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.
Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.
Schools were closed for the day across the region after the impact blew out windows of buildings and temperatures had plunged in central Russia to -18 degrees Celsius (0 degrees Fahrenheit).
Most of those injured were treated for minor cuts and bruises from shattered glass, the local police department told the RIA Novosti news agency.
The Chelyabinsk region is Russia’s industrial heartland, filled with smoke-chugging factories and other huge facilities that include a nuclear power plant and the massive Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.
A spokesman for Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy state corporation, said that its operations remained unaffected.
“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 defence ministry meanwhile said it had sent soldiers “to the sites of impact.”
Footage of the incident broadcast on state television showed at least two bright flashes fill the sky at around 9:00 am (0500 GMT) as the streets filled with morning rush hour traffic.
Source and read more: