Meteor explodes over central Russia: 500 hurt
Absolutely amazing event in Russia this morning - and thank God there were no fatalities and most of the injuries were very minor.
A small asteroid exploded above the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk, causing a shock wave to ripple through the city, breaking glass, setting off car alarms, and knocking some people off their feet.
The fireball, travelling at a speed of 19 miles per second according to Russia's space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon, leaving a long white trail in its wake which could be seen as far as 125 miles away.
Car alarms went off, windows broke and mobile phone networks were interrupted. The Interior Ministry said the meteor explosion had caused a sonic boom.
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he said.
No fatalities were reported, but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, told Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov to help those affected.
"Unfortunately, the normal work of some industrial enterprises was disrupted, people have suffered as has social infrastructure - kindergartens, schools," Putin told his Emergencies Minister Sergei Puchkov in televised comments.
"First of all, it is necessary to think about how to help the people, and not only to think about it, but to do it immediately," Putin said.
A local ministry official said such incidents were extremely rare and Friday's events might have been linked to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass earth. However, the European Space Agency on its Twitter website said its experts had confirmed there was no connection.
"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," said Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry.
Russia's Emergencies Ministry said 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of them were kept in hospital.
An incredible coincidence that another asteroid will make a close approach to earth this afternoon. That one will pass about 17,000 miles above the earth - well within the orbit of some satellites - and is not expected to cause any trouble unless we get extremely unlucky and it takes out a satellite.
Recall also the Tunguaska blast of 1908 when it is believed another meteor - much larger than this one - exploded above the Siberian forests flattening tens of thousands of acres of trees.
Somebody up there doesn't much like Russia it seems.