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More than 700 people were injured when a meteorite shot across the sky and exploded over central Russia on Friday, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, shattering windows and damaging buildings:
MOSCOW — Bright objects, apparently debris from a meteorite, streaked through the sky in western Siberia early on Friday, accompanied by a boom that damaged buildings across a vast area of territory. Hundreds of people were reported to have been injured, most from breaking glass.
Emergency officials had reported no deaths by Friday afternoon, but administrators in the city of Chelyabinsk said that more than 750 residents had sought medical care and 31 had been hospitalized.
Russian experts believe the blast was caused by a 10-ton meteor known as a bolide, which created a powerful shock wave when it reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. Scientists believe the bolide exploded and evaporated at a height of around 20 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface, but that small fragments may have reached the ground, the statement said.
The governor of the Chelyabinsk district reported that a search team had found an impact crater on the outskirts of a city about 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk. An official from the Interior Ministry told the Russian news agency Interfax that three large pieces of meteorite debris had been retrieved in the area and that 10,000 police officers are searching for more.
A small asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, is expected to pass close to Earth later on Friday, NASA reported on its Web site. Aleksandr Y. Dudorov, a physicist at Chelyabinsk State University, said it was possible that the meteorite may have been flying alongside the asteroid.
“What we witnessed today may have been the precursor of that asteroid,” said Mr. Dudorov in a telephone interview. Video clips from the city of Chelyabinsk showed an early morning sky illuminated by a brilliant flash, followed by the sound of breaking glass and multiple car alarms. Meteorites typically cause sonic booms as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. On Friday, the force was powerful enough to shatter dishes and televisions in people’s homes.
NASA released this statement:
According to NASA scientists, the trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object. Information is still being collected about the Russian meteorite and analysis is preliminary at this point. In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14's trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.
More from space.com.
This video from a Russian news outlet is said to be of the moment of the explosion.