A meteorite impact has occurred in Russia, causing hundreds of injuries, ranging from light to severe. The rock, which broke apart mid-air, scattered across the Chelyabinsk Oblast, before landing in a lake a kilometer outside of the city of Chebarkul.
At 9:15 am local time, in the Ural mountains of Russia, a light streaked across the sky blindingly bright. This light was a meteorite, which had entered the earth's atmosphere at approximately 54,000 km/h (33,500 mph, or 44 times the speed of sound). The rock, which was estimated to weigh 10 tons exploded (also known as an airburst) about 10 kilometers from the surface and then scattered across the Chelyabinsk region. The main body of the meteorite eventually impacted in Lake Chebarkul, one kilometer from the city of Chebarkul.
Check out this compilation of videos from the impact.
The reports are still coming in, and depending on your news source you can get a wide range of figures pertaining to the damage the meteorite has caused, but several hundred people have been reported injured. So far, the higher estimates are around 950 injured people, including two "gravely injured" and over 150 schoolchildren who were cut by the glass of their classroom window shattering from the airburst. So far, around 100 have been hospitalized due to the incident. The majority of the damage indeed seems to have been caused by the airburst's shockwave, which shattered glass in many buildings and may have been responsible for the collapse of a factory roof.
Russia's Prime minister Dimitri Medvedev confirmed in a public announcement that there had indeed been a meteorite impact, and that it proved that the world, as a whole, is very much exposed to this kind of disaster. He also proclaimed the need for a system that could protect the planet from meteorites and asteroids.
The impact happened with suspicious timing, considering the asteroid which will be passing earth at close proximity later today, and astronomers are conflicted as to whether the two events are connected. However, since the meteorite was traveling in a different direction and nearly 500,000 km away from the asteroid, there is a distinct possibility of the two events being unrelated.