A powerful meteor with the power of a 300 kiloton atomic bomb blasted the Russian region of the Urals early on Friday about 9:20 AM local time injuring over 1,000 people, hospitalizing more than 100 persons (two critically injured), damaging several hundred building structures (including a zinc factory that appears to have taken a direct hit), and shattering countless windows. The meteor, or meteors, released several kilotons of energy above the Chelyabinsk region, a city about 930 miles east of Moscow that is also home to several nuclear and chemical weapons disposal facilities. The towns of Emanzhelinsk, Etkul, Kopeisk, Korkino, Chebarkul, Yuzhnouralsk, Zlatoust, Troitsk, Uvelsky and Krasnoarmeisky were also impacted. The meteor hit just hours before Asteroid 2012DA14 made its closest recorded pass of an asteroid to the Earth – about 17,150 miles (28,000 kilometers). Regardless, the European Space Agency said its experts had determined there was no connection – just cosmic coincidence (a statement that I strongly disagree with). American space experts also claimed it was coincidence that the the two most powerful impacts in 100 years (Tunguska in 1908 and this one in 2013) both occurred in the same region.
Local residents witnessed burning objects in the sky of the Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk regions and reported hearing a huge blast early in the morning and feeling a shockwave rumble through the city. The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard all throughout the area and mobile phones were working intermittently.
The meteor – estimated to be about 10 tons – entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered into pieces about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. A six-meter-wide (20-foot-wide) crater was found in the same area, which could have been created from space fragments striking the ground. The trace from a falling object could be seen in Yekaterinburg, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Chelyabinsk.
“We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud, thundering sound.”
The site of Friday’s spectacular show is about 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) west of Tunguska, which in 1908 was the site of the largest recorded explosion of a space object crashing into (or directly over) Earth. That blast, attributed to a comet or asteroid fragment, is generally estimated to have been about 10 megatons; it leveled some 80 million trees. That the Tunguska event and Chelyabinsk meteor were only several hundred miles apart is a very odd coincidence considering a comet strike against Earth is akin to hitting a spinning target travelling at a rate of 19 miles per second through space. Regardless, I can think of no rational explanation other than pure chance.
Below is a photo montage of the meteor.
Below is a video compilation of the Russian meteor strike over Chelyabinsk. Part 1 of the video shows several clips containing the loud sonic boom audio. Part 2 contains various clips of the meteor as well as footage showing damage and injuries that resulted from the impacts.