Nearly 1,000 injured by meteor blast over central Russia
Moscow: Nearly 1,000 people, including more than 200 children, were injured today in a freak incident when a meteor weighing about 10 tonnes streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains, creating panic as shockwaves blasted windows and rocked buildings.
According to officials, 985 people have sought medical attention in the disaster area, 112 of whom have been hospitalised. Among the injured there over 200 children.
Most of those hurt suffered minor cuts and bruises but some received head injuries, Russian officials said.
Gas supplies were cut off to hundreds of homes in the Chelyabinsk region as a safety precaution and some 3,000 buildings were reported to have been damaged, Ria Novosti news agency quoted officials as saying.
A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs, but much of the impact was felt in the city of Chelyabinsk, some 200 km south of Yekaterinburg.
President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas.
Putin also promised "immediate" aid for people affected, saying kindergartens and schools had been damaged, and work disrupted at industrial enterprises.
Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite. They said in a statement, "According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/second."
Asteroids are small bodies that orbit the Sun as the Earth does. Larger asteroids are called planetoids or minor planets and smaller ones are called meteoroids.
The Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that the meteor weighed about 10 tonnes and entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kmph.
It would have shattered about 30-50 km above ground, with most of the meteor burning up.