Almost 1000 injured as 10-ton meteor blasts across Russian sky, causing explosions and smashing windows

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Many of those wounded, 67 of whom are children, were hurt by broken glass caused by shockwaves and hurtling debris

Moscow

Nearly 1000 people were injured and 3,000 buildings damaged after a 10-ton meteor that entered the earth’s atmosphere at 33,000mph ripped across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains this morning.

Many of those wounded in the city of Chelyabinsk, 900 miles east of Moscow, were hit by broken glass when the shockwave smashed thousands of windows. At least 31 people were reported to be seriously injured and close to 200 children were among those hurt. Army units were scrambled to locate the debris and found two fragments of the meteor 50 miles to the west on the shore of a lake near Chebarkul,  one of which had left a crater 6 metres wide. A third segment struck near Zlatoust, about 50 miles to the north-west.

Witnesses described a scenes of panic as pedestrians were thrown to the ground when the blast struck at 9.22am local time. A student from School No 461 in Chelyabinsk, where several pupils were injured, said: “Everything went very bright. There was a very loud sound like the roar of an aeroplane, then an explosion and glass rained down.”

 Another resident described seeing a “terrible burst of scarlet and orange light. My eyes still hurt... the shock wave knock the glass out of the neighbouring houses. I turned out the light, sat the children on the sofa and waited…my God...I thought war had started.”

Eyewitness reports were confirmed by video footage from drivers’ dashboard cameras – a common precaution used by many drivers against corrupt traffic police – which showed the blazing trail in the sky.

Schools were closed and 20,000 emergency personnel were deployed to the region yesterday as a massive clean-up operation got underway. While no deaths were reported, the number of injured rapidly climbed  and by early evening Chelyabinsk’s health department confirmed 985 people had sought treatment. Last night those who were able were attempting to patch up their windows against the bitter cold. The daytime temperature was minus 9C and the authorities were fearful of fatalities, especially as it was not apparent whether the blast had damaged the city’s centralised heating system which pipes hot water from power stations to homes.

Valery Shuvalov, a scientist at Russia’s Institute of Geosphere Dynamics, said: “The meteor was destroyed in the atmosphere and the cloud of fragments flew off, creating a shock wave...Much of the material has evaporated, the remaining pieces fell to earth.”

“The blasts, of which there were three, were preceded by a bright flash with a temperature I would estimate at more than 2,500 degrees centigrade,” Sergei Zakharov, the head of the regional section of the Russian Geographic Society, said.

 Despite scientists confirming the incident as a meteor strike, the Russian Army was put on high alert as nationalist politicians suggested a shadowy foreign power could have been at work. Vladimir Zhirinkovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, lost no time in accusing the Americans of “testing a new weapon” against Russia.

The Chelyabinsk region is home to key parts of Russia’s civilian and military nuclear industry including Mayak, a former plutonium factory now used as a waste processing facility that saw one of the world’s worst ever nuclear accidents in 1957.

 Rosatom, the national nuclear energy monopoly, said that its facilities in the region were unaffected by the blast and “working normally,” while Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said radiation was at “normal levels” after the incident.

The Emergency Situations ministry has ruled out any danger of radioactive pollution, but warned people not to approach or touch pieces of meteor in case there is “toxic contamination.”

That hasn’t stopped several enterprising locals for seeking to capitalize on the region’s new found fame, however. But Friday afternoon at least two people were offering what they claimed were genuine “Chelyabinsk meteor” fragments on the jewelry section of a Russian online trading site.

“Alexei” who claimed to be from Magnitogorsk in the region’s south, said he wanted 500 rubles (about £10) for a two centimeter fragment that he “had no use for.” “It’s a little scratched, but otherwise in excellent condition,” he wrote.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?