Exploding meteor shower injures hundreds in central Russia

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 15, 2013 10:50 hrs

A series of explosions reportedly caused by a meteor shower sparked panic in major cities in Russia, where more than 400 people have been injured.

There are conflicting reports from within the Russian Government, but they confirmed that a blast was felt in the Chelyabinsk region, 1500 km east of Moscow.

According to news.com.au, a spokeswoman for Russia's Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told an international news agency that there was a meteor shower.

Another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, however, was quoted by another agency as saying that it was a single meteor.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said more than 400 people had sought medical treatment after the blasts, and at least three had been admitted to hospital in serious conditions, the report said.

Many of the injuries were from glass broken by the explosions. Kolsenikov also said about 600 square meters of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.

According to the report, the local office of the national emergencies ministry released a statement saying a meteor disintegrated above the Urals, 'partially burning up in the lower atmosphere'.

The ministry said some fragments fell near the town of Satka, about 200 kilometers from the regional capital city of Chelyabinsk.

Schools were closed for the day across the region after the impact blew out windows of buildings and temperatures had plunged in central Russia to -18 degrees Celsius.

The Chelyabinsk region is Russia's industrial heartland, filled with smoke-chugging factories and other huge facilities that include a nuclear power plant and the massive Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre, the report added. (ANI)

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