(MOSCOW) — More than 1,000 people were injured Friday when the largest meteor to strike the Earth in two generations disintegrated above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk located about 1,000 miles east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains.
Dashboard cameras captured a blinding flash of light streaking across the sky. Moments later, the fragments smashed into the ground. The impact, and the sonic boom of the meteor entering the atmosphere, shattered windows around the city and knocked over a wall at a zinc factory.
Witnesses say they thought a war had broken out.
“I saw a body moving in the skies, in a moment there came a flash — we first thought it was fireworks but a moment later we saw a trace as if from the rocket followed by an explosion in couple of minutes. The window broke … tea, bread, water — everything fell on the floor,” one restaurant waiter in Chelyabinsk said.
One scientist told Russian television the meteor was a big one, weighing perhaps tens of tons, but stressed that it was not related to the asteroid that is expected to buzz close to Earth later on Friday.
Regional officials say that one large fragment fell in a lake, but debris has been reported in three parts of Russia and in Kazakhstan.
Schools in the region closed for the day after most of the windows were blown out, citing freezing temperatures which were below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
The incident knocked out cellphone networks, but electricity and water supplies were not affected. Rosatom said all of its nuclear power facilities were functioning normally.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sugam Pokharel and Tim Hume, CNN
Ivana Kottasova and Armelle De Oliveira, CNN
Steve Almasy, CNN