Yekaterina Pustynnikova/, via Associated Press
Meteor contrail over Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk in Russia on February 15, 2013.

Meteor Explodes in Fireball Over Ural Mountains, Injuring 500 and Blowing Out Windows in Russian City



A meteor streaked across the early-morning sky in Russia and exploded into a fireball on Friday over the industrial city of Chelyabinsk, in the Ural Mountains.

The shockwave injured 500 people, most of whom were hit by shattered glass from blown-out windows, media reports said. Chelyabinsk is 950 miles east of Moscow, according to Reuters.

The meteor’s white contrail was visible up to 125 miles away in Yekaterinburg, Reuters reported. The 10-ton space rock set off car alarms and disrupted mobile phone networks as it broke upon entering the atmosphere at 33,000 miles per hour, faster than a bullet.

Scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor exploded 20 or 30 miles above Earth, according to a statement quoted by The New York Times. Reuters said 112 people were hospitalized and 297 buildings were damaged.

The meteor strike bears eerie parallels to one that exploded over Siberia in 1908 and has been invoked often over the past several days in comparison to the flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14, which will happen today at around 2:30 p.m. That one will pass 17,200 miles from Earth, which is within the orbit of communications and weather satellites (which are 22,000 miles up) but does not pose a threat.

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