Youtube video courtesy Alexandr Ivanov

An aerial meteorite explosion has wreaked havoc in Russia’s Urals. The blast caused widespread panic, damaged buildings, blew out thousands of windows and lead hundreds to seek medical attention for minor injuries.

The incident was caused by a bolide, officials said. Multiple dashboard videos appeared online, showing huge fireballs flying over buildings and exploding with a strong blast as the meteriote broke into pieces mid-air. A local zinc factory was the worst-hit, with some of its walls collapsed. 

‘Shock and frustration’: Locals report on meteorite crash in Russian Urals (VIDEO)

17:50 GMT: The authorities of the Chelyabinsk region assessed the damage from the meteorite at 1 billion rubles, said Governor Mikhail Yurevich .

17:49 GMT: The Emergency Ministry said that at least 300 homes will have to be glazed. ‘As a result of an emergency situation in a number of towns and cities of Chelyabinsk region there are isolated cases of damage to the upper floors windows in 297 buildings, including 6 hospitals and 16 schools and pre-schools’ the ministry’s spokesman said. In addition, the work of three gas distribution stations was interrupted disrupting the gas supply to over 2000 people. Presently the gas supply has been restored in full, according to the ministry.

17:34 GMT: 1200 people were injured in Chelyabinsk region as a result of the meteorite fall, Russian Interior Ministry spokesman said.

16:35 GMT: The Emergency Ministry has since denied sending out SMS warnings about the meteor shower in the Chelyabinsk region. The ministry added that informing residents started after the incident and the spokesperson who spread the false information on the incident was fired.

16:19 GMT: The fireball that hit Russia’s Urals is the largest rock to strike the planet since 1908, Nature Magazine says. The blast was even more powerful than North Korea’s recent nuclear test, added the UK journal. Unlike the Russian Academy of Science, it estimated that the mass of the fireball was around 40 tons before it entered the atmosphere. Russian scientists put the mass at 10 tons.

15:55 GMT: Two hockey matches in the city of Chelyabinsk were cancelled after a wall at the city’s ice arena was damaged by a piece of meteorite.

15:42 GMT: NASA said that the Chelyabinsk fireball had nothing to do with the approaching 2012 DA14 asteroid, as some scientists had previously suggested.

The trajectory of the Russian meteorite was significantly different than the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, making it a completely unrelated object,” the space agency said on its website. “In videos of the meteor, it is seen to pass from left to right in front of the rising sun, which means it was traveling from north to south. Asteroid DA14’s trajectory is in the opposite direction, from south to north.

15:28 GMT: The Russian Academy of Science now estimates the meteorite had a mass of around 10 tons before it entered Earth’s atmosphere, and began disintegrating at an altitude of between 30 and 50 kilometers.

15:01 GMT: Around 1,000 people have sustained injuries in Chelyabinsk due to the meteorite strike, says the Emergencies Ministry. 159 of them are children.

13:20 GMT: The number of people injured in the meteorite blast has risen to 950, Governor of Chelyabinsk Region Mikhail Yurevitch said.

13:10 GMT: Roscosmos said they did not track the meteorite that fell near Chelyabinsk. “Our ground facilities and, as I understand, those abroad too did not the monitor this celestial body,” the agency spokesman said.

13:02 GMT: Nearly 3,000 buildings in Chelyabinsk were damaged to varying extents by the meteor shower, including 34 medical facilities and 361 schools and kindergartens, the city administration’s website reported. The total amount of window glass shattered amounts to 100,000 square meters, the site said, citing city administration head Sergey Davydov.

12:52 GMT: The meteorite’s combustion products won’t stay in the atmosphere for long, and will soon come down with the rain, Russian scientists said. The 50-ton meteorite is believed to have caused no radioactive or chemical pollution.

12:49 GMT: There’s practically “no chance” such incident could happen in the region again, the Russian Academy of Sciences said. Roshydromet monitoring systems have detected flybys of several meteorites overnight and in the morning.

A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.
A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.

12:38 GMT: First images of the crater from the meteorite fall appear online. 

12:24 GMT: The military had nothing to do with the aerial meteorite explosion, the Urals Emergency Ministry said: “Russia’s defense ministry took no action connected to the incident. No aircrafts has been registered in the air at the given period of time.” Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports that the military had shot down the falling meteorite, shattering it into pieces.

12:21 GMT: Vladimir Puchkov, the head of the Russian Emergency Ministry, is flying to Chelyabinsk to hold an emergency meeting with regional governor Mikhail Yurevich concerning the meteor shower incident, which injured over 725 people.

Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.(Copyright 2013 © EUMETSAT)
Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.(Copyright 2013 © EUMETSAT)

12:05 GMT: Six cities and four small towns saw damage from the air blast produced by the meteorite, mostly shattered windows, Itar-Tass reported, citing police officials.

12:01 GMT: The site where the meteorite is believed to have fallen has been closed off by military units wearing special protective suits.

12:00 GMT: Three municipalities of the Chelyabinsk region have declared a state of emergency. “8 out of 43 municipalities have considerably suffered from the fall of space debris, 3 are in state of emergency,” Emergency Ministry spokesperson Igor Murog said.

11:42 GMT: A phone hotline has been launched for Chelyabinsk residents seeking psychological care.

11:40 GMT: Two people injured in the meteorite incident are in intensive care, RIA Novosti reported, citing Chelyabinsk officials.

11:36 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the country’s Emergency Ministry to evaluate the damage caused by the meteorite incident, and to provide victims with all necessary aid. He said that the “astronomic aspect of the incident” is of particular interest, because analysis of the Chelyabinsk meteorite fall could help prevent future such incidents and alert residents in advance.

11:33 GMT: At least 297 apartment buildings were damaged from the meteorite fall in the Chelyabinsk region, an Emergency Ministry spokesperson told Russia 24 TV.

11:30 GMT: Parts of the Chelyabinsk meteorite are ‘on sale’ on some Russian websites. “Will sell meteorite pieces cheap, photos later,” an announcement read.

11:19 GMT: The Russian military has explored a meteorite crater that is reportedly 6 meters in diameter; normal radiation levels were detected at the site.

11:12 GMT: Nearly 725 people have requested medical assistance in regions hit by the meteor shower.

11:10 GMT: The meteorite blast in the Chelyabinsk region may be connected to the 2012DA14 asteroid, which will pass close to Earth tonight, Tatyana Borisevich from Pulkovo Observatory told Itar-Tass.

11:00 GMT: Gas has been shut off in hundreds of Chelyabinsk homes after a security system shut it down due to the explosion.

10:55 GMT: The meteorite explosion sent animals in the Chelyabinsk zoo into a panic. Wolves and horses were reportedly the most agitated, but have now been calmed.