Meteorite fireball slams into Russia, 1,000 hurt

MOSCOW. February 16. KAZINFORM A flaming meteorite streaked across the sky and slammed into central Russia on Friday with a massive boom that blew out windows and damaged thousands of buildings around the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,000 people in the area, officials said.

The rare and spectacular phenomenon sparked confusion and panic among residents of the region and was captured by numerous witnesses on video that quickly spread to television and computer screens around the world.

"Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright," a local teacher in the Chelyabinsk Region reported. "Not like the lights got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual white light."

Police and other officials said around 1,200 people had been hurt, including more than 200 children, mostly in the Chelyabinsk Region near the Ural Mountains. By the end of the day, the number hospitalized was 50, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Earlier, at least two people were reported to be in "grave" condition, RIA Novosti informed.

The majority of those hurt had suffered cuts from broken glass, but the region's governor said two-thirds of the injuries were very light.

The blast was so powerful that it was detected by 11 of the 45 infrasound stations of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO)'s network designed to track atomic blasts across the planet.

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