A meteo exploded over central Russia early Friday, sending fireballs crashing to Earth, shattering windows, damaging buildings and injuring more than 500 people.
Commuters in Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow, witnessed the meteor streak across the sky before they heard what sounded like an explosion accompanied by bright light, Reuters reported.
Video of the rare meteor shows what looks like a fireball blazing across the sky, leaving a long white trail in its path. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phone networks were interrupted, the report said.
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg, in the Urals Mountains, said. "I felt like I was blinded by headlights."
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No fatalities have been reported. President Vladimir Putin, who was scheduled to host Finance Ministry officials from the G-20 nations in Moscow, has ordered the emergency situations minister to mobilize assistance for those affected.
Experts are linking the rare event to a meteor the size of an Olympic swimming pool, which is expected to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles). The link between the two objects has not yet been confirmed, however.
Russia's Emergencies Ministry said that 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of those were kept in hospitals. Search groups were set up to look for the remains of the meteorite.
"There have never been any cases of meteors breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry, said.
Eyewitness accounts of the meteor explosion indicate that a loud noise rang out at around 9.20 a.m. (12:20 a.m. ET). The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city's center, media reports said.
"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," a local resident who did not give his name, told a Reuters correspondent. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows."
A team of 20,000 rescuers were alerted following the incident, although the Emergency Ministry said it wasn't expecting any more meteor debris to fall from the sky.
The meteorite crash in Russia happened at nearly the same time that people were watching for the 2012 DA14 asteroid, which will come close to the Earth on Friday.