Feb 15 2013
A meteor has streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains, causing sharp explosions and injuring nearly 1,000 people, many of them hurt by broken glass. Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region.
Chelyabinsk health chief Marina Moskvicheva, said 985 people in her city had asked for medical assistance. Forty-three were taken to hospital. The interior ministry said at least three were in a serious condition.
The meteor - estimated to be about 10 tons - entered the Earth's atmosphere going at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph). It shattered about 30-50 kilometres (18-32 miles) above the ground, releasing several kilotons of energy, the Russian Academy of Sciences said..
Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 900 miles east of Moscow, said: "There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were okay. "We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound."
The ministry said about 6,000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory collapsed.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9.20am local time, leaving a thick white trail and an intense flash.The meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass to Earth of an asteroid - about 17,150 miles. .
The dramatic events prompted an array of reactions from prominent Russian political figures. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, at an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that "not only the economy is vulnerable, but the whole planet."
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the nationalist leader noted for vehement statements, said "It's not meteors falling, it's the test of a new weapon by the Americans," the RIA Novosti news agency reported.