Shockwaves From Meteorite Injure Hundreds in Central Russia

The city of Chelyabinsk is near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, approximately 930 miles east of Moscow.  It’s on the upper part of this map, just to the left of center.

“I was driving to work.  It was quite dark,” said Viktor Prokofiev, in an interview with Reuters news service.  “But it suddenly became as bright as if it (were) day.”

“I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend,” a man named Andrei added.  “Then there was a flash.  And I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows.”

According to experts, what these men are describing is a meteorite that apparently exploded in the sky over central Russia early Friday.

There were no initial reports of anyone getting hit by falling debris.

But the explosion set off shockwaves that broke windows and injured as many as 500 people, according to the New York Times.

No deaths were reported early Friday.

But at least three people were in serious condition, according to the AFP news agency.

Most of the injuries were caused by flying glass from shattered windows, according to published reports.

“We saw a big burst of light (and) went outside to see what it was,” said Sergey Hametov, in an interview with the Associated Press.  “(Then) we heard a really loud thundering sound.”

Hametov lives in the Russia city of Chelyabinsk – approximately 930 miles east of Moscow.

Chelyabinsk reportedly suffered the most injuries and damage.

Experts say meteors usually cause large sonic booms when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The reason?

They’re traveling faster than the speed of sound.

How ever, the experts also say that incidents such as the one in central Russia on Friday are extremely rare – so rare that there’s almost zero chance that you’ll go through the same experience yourself.

A meteor becomes a meteorite when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.

And almost all meteorites break up in mid-air, without hitting the Earth.

Most times, there’s just a flash and a boom and maybe a little debris – not hundreds of injuries and widespread damage.

Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency reported that fragments of the meteor had been discovered in a reservoir outside the city of Cherbakul, southwest of Chelyabinsk.

However, there were no reports early Friday of any people actually being hit by pieces of the meteorite.