A meteor has reportedly exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring hundreds of people. At 9.20am local time, a large object flashed across the sky, leaving a long white vapour trail. A very loud bang was then heard directly over apartment buildings, shattering window and buckling walls in some places.
Casualty figures keep changing, reports says four people are seriously injured, with as many as 400 wounded. Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said 400 people had sought medical attention following the blast. A 6,000 metre section of a zinc factory roof has also collapsed.
Russia television is showing an alleged video of the crater where the meteor landed, a huge burning hole. The video is actually of the famous burning coal mine in Darvaza, Turkmenistan. According to the latest police reports, the meteor actually landed in a lake 70 km from Chelyabinsk after exploding over the city.
Sonya Aleynikova, a 25-year old Chelyabinsk resident told me this morning:
"A very bright light started shining, a very, very bright light- it dazzled us. Then in the window we saw a trail of smoke and a falling object to the side of the woods. The smoke clouds were big and after 3 minutes we heard a powerful explosion, which actually deafened us for half a second. The building shook so hard there was dust in the room. The ventilator in our kitchen fell out of the wall."
"The light was so unreal it was clear something strange was happening straight away. Seemed obvious, the end of the world had come. But really we were sure it was a plane, on fire in the sky."
"We're still in shock. I can't really eat. My friend is crying, crying. She keeps saying we need to run somewhere, she's convinced this is the start of something terrible."
According to Sonya, local schools have been evacuated, parents have been asked to collect their children. Pupils were already in class when the explosion occurred.
The Chelyabinsk local government has issued an emergency statement requesting people to return to their homes and saying that "radiation is at a normal level".
Chelyabinsk is a city of 1 million near the Ural Mountains, roughly 1000 miles from Moscow.