15/02/2013 03:11 GMT | Updated 15/02/2013 08:22 GMT

Meteorite Injures Hundreds After Streaking Across Russia's Ural Mountains (VIDEO, PICTURES)

Almost a thousand people were injured after a meteor streaked through the skies above Russia's Ural mountains.

Fragments of the meteor fell to the ground, breaking windows and setting off car alarms in the Chelyabinsk region while a series of loud bangs at around 03:20 BST, or 9.20am local time, caused panic amid initial fears there had been a plane crash.

One eyewitness told The Moscow Times: "It started to explode in the air and then continued to the earth. There are black clouds over the city. Everybody thought war had broken out."

The Russian regional governor said 950 people had been injured, including at least 82 children. Two people are said to be in intensive care.

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The meteor streaked across the skies above Russia's Ural mountains

Mikhail Yurevich, governor of Chelyabinsk region, said the meteorite had landed in a lake close to Chebarkul, a town with 46,000 inhabitants.

According to the Russian army a crater about 6 metres wide was found on the edge of the lake.

It is estimated that the meteorite weighed about 10 tonnes and entered the atmosphere at 33,000 miles per hour, according to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

They added that the meteorite "shattered" about 18-32 miles above the Earth, according to the BBC.

A government official told Interfax: "The flashes in the lower layers of the atmosphere caused by a meteor shower were recorded above both the Urals and the Volga Federal District, the impact of which caused windows to shatter in the upper floors of buildings."

The majority of injuries were minor, caused by broken glass. According to the Natural History Museum, there have been no recorded deaths due to a meteorite fall.


It does cite reports however, of a dog being killed by the fall of the Nakhla martian meteorite in Egypt in 1911.

The "explosions" heard in footage of the meteor are believed to have been caused by a sonic boom.

Photo gallery Meteor shower hits Russia See Gallery