About 950 people were injured as a result of a meteor that crossed the sky over Russia on Friday (15), throwing fireballs into the Earth, smashing windows and triggering car alarms, said the governor of Chelyabinsk region Mikhail Yurevich, quoted by Ria Novosti agency public.
“The number of wounded is 950,” said the governor. The previous balance was more than 500 injured in the region, many of them with shrapnel due to the breaking of windows. Many wounded were treated for superficial cuts and bruises caused by broken glass, said local police agency RIA Novosti.
The meteorite crossed the horizon, leaving a long white trail on your way that could be seen as far as 200 miles away, in Yekaterinburg. Alarms sounded cars, smashed windows and cell phones had the operation affected by the incident.
“I was driving to work, it was pretty dark, but suddenly there came a flash as if it were day,” said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals. “I felt like I was blinded by the light,” he added.
According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo reportedly blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers.
A bright flash was seen in the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk regions, Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan.
Lifenews tabloid said that at least one piece of the fallen object caused damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk. According to preliminary reports, it crashed into a wall near a zinc factory, disrupting the city’s Internet and mobile service.
Witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had struck at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.
Police in the Chelyabinsk region are reportedly on high alert, and have begun ‘Operation Fortress’ in order to protect vital infrastructure.
Office buildings in downtown Chelyabinsk are being evacuated. Injuries were reported at one of the city’s secondary schools, supposedly from smashed windows. No other injuries have been reported so far.
An emergency message published on the website of the Chelyabinsk regional authority urged residents to pick up their children from school and remain at home if possible.
No information about the relationship of the fall of the meteorite with the passage on Friday of an asteroid 50 meters in length to 27,700 km above the Earth’s surface. The distance is smaller than the orbit of satellite communication.