A terrifying meteorite shower left more than 500 people injured, buildings devastated and the mobile network wiped out when it hit Russia this morning.
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Brightly burning rocks could be seen for hundreds of kilometres as they crashed at around 9.20am local time and one bystander described it ‘like a scene from the Armageddon movie.’
The meteor is believed to have landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a town in the neighbouring Chelyabinsk region.
The city of Chelyabinsk, 900 miles east of Moscow and close to the Kazakhstan border, took the brunt of the impact.
Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames and eyewitnesses spoke of several devastating explosions.
The strike came on the same day as Asteroid 2012 DA14, which is due to skim the orbit of the Earth tonight.
But astronomers say that it is probably just a coincidence – Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society told MailOnline: ‘As I understand it, the Russian meteorite(s) were travelling from east to west whereas 2012 DA14 will be travelling from north to south.’
Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said more than 500 people had sought medical treatment after the blasts, and at least three had been hospitalised in a serious condition.
Many injured had bloodied faces from being his by shards of glass broken in the explosions.
One child’s back was seen covered in blood.
However, there were no reports of fatalities.
It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments.
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound.
Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.
Chelyabinsk residents reported shaking ground, windows being shattered and car alarms being set off during the shower.
Mobile phones are only working intermittently and there were localised power cuts.
The emergencies ministry said that 20,000 rescue workers had been dispatched to help the injured and locate those needing help.
The defence ministry said it had sent soldiers to the sites of impact.
The stadium of Chelyabinsk’s Traktor ice hockey side was hit and state television showed a part of the roof and a wall shorn off a brick zinc factory in the city.
All schools and kindergartens were closed in Chelyabinsk region today.
‘The meteorite that passed over the Chelyabinsk region fell into a body of water 1km from the city of Chebarkul,’ said a statement posted on the website of Chelyabinsk governor, Mikhail Yurevich.
The lake was not immediately identified but it had a huge hole in the ice on its surface in minus 20C.
Reports conflicted on what happened in the clear skies.
A spokeswoman for the emergency ministry, Irina Rossius, said there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.
Read more: UKMail