A flash of bright light, the sound of explosions – what witnesses report and cameras captured as a meteor broke apart as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere above Chelyabinsk in central Russia.
In the aftermath, a meteor shower that injured hundreds, set off car alarms and disrupted the mobile phone network.
Describing what happened, the head of the region’s emergencies ministry Yuri Burenko said: “In the sky over the city of Chelyabinsk an object was spotted which flew through the air at high speed leaving a trace in the sky.
“Two minutes later three consecutive explosions were heard, and the resulting impact wave smashed windows in the city of Chelyabinsk and neighbouring cities.”
Part of the meteor raced across the horizon, leaving a long trail of white smoke behind it which could be seen 200 kilometres away in Russia’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg.
“I saw something moving in the sky, in a moment there came a flash – we first thought it was fireworks, but a moment later we saw a trace as if from a rocket, followed by an explosion in couple of minutes. The window broke … tea , bread, water – everything was on the ground,” said one resident of Chelyabinsk.
A number of buildings have been damaged in Chelyabinsk, 1,500 kilometres east of Moscow. Six hundred square metres of the roof on a zinc factory collapsed.