Meteor Shower Injures Hundreds in Russia

10:15 AM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY


  • At least 500 people said to be injured; dozens hospitalized
  • Meteor shower struck the Chelyabinsk region
  • Reports that Russian air defenses intercepted debris

Russia was hit by a meteor shower on Friday in the nation's central Ural Mountains, injuring hundreds and causing damage to buildings in six cities, according to reports.

Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, Russia's Emergency Ministry said in a statement, the Associated Press reported.

At least three had been hospitalized in serious condition but the majority received treatment for minor cuts from broken glass after the explosions broke windows and shook buildings.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said more than 400 people had called for medical assistance.

Kolsenikov also said about 6,000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.

Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies.

A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.

According to an unconfirmed report in Russia Today, the meteor was intercepted by Russian air defense.

Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, told the Associated Press.

Later Friday, an asteroid known as the 2012 DA14 will come within 17,100 miles of Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, a record close-approach for an asteroid this size.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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