More than 500 people, including 84 children, were injured when a
meteorite shower rained down on three regions of Russia, and
neighbouring Kazakhstan, officials said Friday.
Officials said 112 people have been hospitalised, with three in a
"grave" condition, reported RIA Novosti.
Most people were injured by shattering windowpanes and many of the
injuries seemed to be concentrated in the hard-hit Chelyabinsk
An estimated 20,000 emergency response workers have been mobilised.
Background radiation levels reportedly remain unchanged. This was
confirmed both by emergencies officials, and by the national
nuclear agency, concerned because the area has a fair number of
Reports about whether this was one large meteorite or many smaller
ones initially varied, but the national space agency, Roscosmos,
confirmed by early afternoon that the object had been a single
meteorite, a report given earlier by emergency officials.
"Verified information indicates that this was one meteorite which
burned up as it approached the Earth and disintegrated into
smaller pieces," deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry
press office, Elena Smirnykh said.
Roscosmos stated the meteorite had been moving at a speed of 30 km
"All the city's residents saw blinding flashes, very bright ones,"
a teacher in the Chelyabinsk region told RIA Novosti.
"Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright. Not like the lights
got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual
Officials are trying to determine where the fragments have landed.
The Chelyabinsk governor said one had fallen in a lake in his
region, while others have been reported in the Tyumen, Kurgan and
Sverdlovsk regions as well. Emergency officials in west Kazakhstan
said they were searching for two unidentified objects that fell in
the country's Aktobe region.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic
forum going on in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, called the
meteorite "a symbol of the forum".
"I hope that there will be no serious consequences, but it is a
demonstration that it is not only the economy that is vulnerable,
but our planet as well," he said.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said there was no link between the
meteorite and the 2012 DA14 asteroid which is due to pass close by
the Earth Friday.
Buildings across Russia's Chelyabinsk region were damaged by
falling meteorite particles and the shock waves and sonic booms
caused by them, Russian officials said.
A roof and wall partly collapsed at a zinc factory in Chelyabinsk
region after it was struck by the shock-wave from the meteorite,
the interior ministry reported. The officials did not specify
which factory it was.
South Ural State University cancelled classes for at least two
days due to damage to its buildings.
"The roof did not collapse, but the damage is quite significant.
The windows are broken, some of them were blown in with their
frames," said a university spokeswoman. Some ceiling tiles also
fell down, she added.
Windows were also broken in at least a dozen schools and three
hospitals. The roof of a Chelyabinsk ice rink has also been
The Yuzhnouralskaya district power station had 10 percent of its
windows broken but there was no effect on its operations, Russian
energy supplier Inter RAO reported.
Russia's nuclear agency, Rosatom, said its facilities across the
affected regions were functioning normally. The defence ministry
also said none of its properties were damaged.