Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Sonic Boom Shatters Windows

A huge fireball shattered the morning skies over Russia’s Urals region generating a series of powerful sonic booms, blowing out windows and causing widespread panic. The event has been captured by a series of Youtube videos uploaded from eyewitness cameras and CCTV footage.

“Atmospheric phenomena have been registered in the cities of Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg and Tyumen,” reports the Russian news agency RT. “In Chelyabinsk, witnesses said the explosion was so loud that it resembled an earthquake and thunder at the same time, and that there were huge trails of smoke across the sky. Others reported seeing burning objects fall to earth.” The region is approximately 900 miles east of Moscow.

Details are currently sketchy, but as this video shows, it was certainly a major event. In another video, an eyewitness trains their camera on billowing smoke overhead just as a series of loud explosions cause windows to shatter and car alarms to be triggered. It’s not thought the loud bangs were caused by surface impacts of meteorites, it’s most likely shock waves (sonic booms) originating from the hypervelocity object.

Over a hundred minor injuries have been reported, mainly cuts from shattered glass and minor concussions.

Multiple news sources are reporting that a “meteor shower” has affected the region, but officials say that the shower was likely caused by the disintegration of a larger object. “Verified information indicates that this was one meteorite which burned up as it approached Earth and disintegrated into smaller pieces,” deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry press office, Elena Smirnykh told Ria Novosti.

Also, there are reports that fragments of the fireball have fallen as meteorites on populated areas. A website with a stunning collection of videos and alleged damage to buildings caused by the object is now online.

ANALYSIS: Asteroid ‘Cruise Ship’ to Miss Earth Feb. 15

This event comes less than a day before the much-anticipated asteroid 2012 DA14 will make its flyby, prompting many across Twitter and other social media platforms to speculate the Russian meteor and DA14 are related. Although the timing is fishy, experts don’t think the two are related. “For one thing, this occurred about 16 hours before DA14 passes. At 8 kilometers per second that’s nearly half a million kilometers away from DA14. That puts it on a totally different orbit,” astronomer Phil Plait pointed out in a Bad Astronomy blog.

This is an incredible event that has happened over a populated (albeit sparsely) region, a powerful reminder that there are many more space rocks buzzing around out there.

Credit: Discovery News

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