Photo taken on Feb. 16, 2013 shows a factory building damaged by the shockwave of the meteorite fall in Russia's Ural city of Chelyabinsk. Some 1,200 people have been injured and many houses damaged as a meteorite struck Russia's Urals region on Friday. (Xinhua/Jiang Kehong)
MOSCOW, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- About 1,200 people have been known injured and many buildings damaged since a meteor exploded on Friday morning, raining fireballs over Russia's central Urals region, the Interior Ministry said.
Most of the injured, among them 200 children, suffered cuts by broken glass from thousands of shattered windows during the very rare meteorite explosion, according to the ministry.
Residents in the region uploaded videos of a fireball cutting through the sky. The fireball, travelling at a speed of 30 km per second according to Russian space agency Roscosmos, had blazed across the horizon.
The main impact happened 80 km from the town of Satki in Chelyabinsk region. It has not been confirmed whether the damage was caused by the rock's impact or an airwave caused by its explosion in the lower layers of the atmosphere.
"What happened over the Urals region was not a meteor shower, as was reported earlier," Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Smirnykh told the Interfax news agency. "It was a single meteor which burned up as it passed through the lower layers of the Earth's atmosphere."
Emergency teams were on alert in the regions of Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Sverdlovsk, Samara and Saratov, where meteorite pieces fell. Mobile phone networks were disrupted.
However, the authorities said the meteorite did not cause any major damage. "There is no damage to heating, gas supply, energy grids. All systems work properly," Chelyabinsk deputy governor Sergei Komyakov told reporters.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said in a press release that the accident caused no damage to the military units deployed in the Central Military District. "None of the personnel was injured," it said.
The rock could have weighed several dozens of tons, Sergei Smirnov, an expert from Pulkovo observatory, told the Russia-24 state TV channel. "During the impact, such a huge body becomes disintegrated with the velocity of the fragments reaching several kilometers per second," he said.
In an unrelated but also rare event, an asteroid half the size of a football field passed closer to the earth than any other known object of this size on Friday.
The Asteroid 2012 DA14 passed about 27,700 km from Earth at 1925 GMT.
"We have two rare events of near-Earth objects approaching the Earth on the same day," NASA scientist Paul Chodas said, stressing "it's simply a coincidence."
Experts said the two objects came from different directions at different speeds.
Meanwhile, a meteor-like object fell from the sky over central Cuba on Thursday night local time and turned into a fireball "bigger than the sun" before it exploded, a Cuban TV channel reported Friday, citing eyewitnesses.
One resident was quoted as saying that his house shook slightly in the blast.
It remains unknown whether the reported phenomenon in Cuba is related to the meteor strike in central Russia.
BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- The meteor that exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains Friday was the biggest recorded object to strike the Earth in more than a century, scientists said Saturday.
The energy of the detonation appears to be equivalent to about 300 kilotons of TNT, said Margaret Campbell-Brown of the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. Full story
BEIJING, Feb. 16(Xinhuanet) -- Hours after the huge meteor explosion over Ural Mountains on Friday, residents of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk had already begun to list meteorite pieces for sale on Avito.Ru, Russia's leading website for classified ads.
As many residents of the city were still nursing injuries from the unexpected blast, others were already trying to make a profit, advertising meteorite pieces for sale on auction sites. Full story
HAVANA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- An object fell from the sky over central Cuba on Thursday night and turned into a fireball "bigger than the sun" before it exploded, a Cuban TV channel reported Friday, citing eyewitnesses.
Some residents in the central province of Cienfuegos were quoted as saying that at around 8 p.m. local time Thursday (0100 GMT Friday) they saw a bright spot in the sky comparable to a bus in size. Full story
MOSCOW, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- President Vladimir Putin has ordered immediate assistance for people living in Russia's Ural Mountains after a meteor exploded over the region on Friday, injuring at least 520.
"Every effort should be made to objectively estimate the damage. People have been injured. Assistance must be provided to them immediately," Putin said in a statement posted on the Kremlin's website.Full story
MOSCOW, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- A meteorite burst into the sky over Russia's Urals region and burned up before landing, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday.
"What happened over the Urals region was not a meteor shower, as was reported earlier," ministry spokesperson Yelena Smirnykh told the Interfax news agency. "It was a meteorite which burned up as it passed through the lower layers of the Earth atmosphere."Full story