Meteor Explodes Over Russia, Leaving Nearly 1,000 Injured, Up to $33M In Damages [PHOTOS/VIDEO]

 @FionnaatIBTf.agomuoh@ibtimes.com
on February 15 2013 1:50 PM
Russian meteor 15Feb2013 2
Russian police work near an ice hole, said by the Interior Ministry department for Chelyabinsk region to be the point of impact of a meteor seen earlier in the Urals region, at lake Chebarkul some 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Chelyabinsk February 15, 2013. Reuters

The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, early Friday has left the city’s residents in a panic as reports indicate that nearly 1,000 people have now sought medical attention.

The meteor was seen streaking across the sky of the industrial city 950 miles east of Moscow at approximately 9:20 a.m. local time by several eyewitnesses, many of whom captured video and photo footage.

Having entered Earth's atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph, the meteor shattered about 18 to 32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

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Preliminary reports suggested that there was minimal damage in the aftermath and between 400 and 500 people injured, however, continued updates suggest that the situation is more serious. But no fatalities have been reported.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," Chelyabinsk resident Sergey Hametov told the Associated Press by telephone.

"We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was, and we heard a really loud thundering sound."

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The resulting sonic boom caused car alarms to go off, windows to break and mobile phone networks to be interrupted, Russia’s Interior Ministry detailed.

According to CBS News, among the thousands of frightened citizens, many old women were under the impression that the world was coming to an end.

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An estimated 1.8 million square feet of glass was destroyed in the explosion and will need to be replaced, among other damage that will reportedly cost approximately 1 billion rubles, or $33 million, to repair.

While there was initially concern of radiation exposure, the Emergencies Ministry’s regional unit has reassured that radiation levels are normal and power systems were not affected by the crash.

The meteor ultimately exploded and broke up, landing at three different impact points in the Chelyabinsk region, one possibly being a frozen lake 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk, where a hole 26 feet in diameter was found in the ice, according to reports from national television channel Rossiya 24.

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