Over 500 people have been injured after a surprise meteor shower struck central Russia Friday morning. Video reports show a streaking fireball that broke up and rained fragments onto the Urals region. [videoembed id=112592] [videoembed id=112624]
Most of the injuries are thought to be cuts and bruises but not life-threatening. The shower did serious structural damage, particularly to the city of Chelyabinsk, some 1,500 kilometres east of Moscow, where Metro’s office was damaged with the roof and windows smashed. [embedgallery id=112572]
"First there was a blinding flash. My wife and I were in a panic wondering if there was a war,” said Metro Chelyabinsk editor Oleg Lastochkin. "Four minutes after the flash, we felt a shock wave and the apartment windows were shaking. Street car sirens went off and then we heard five or six explosions.”
When the editor arrived at the office, "there was broken glass and one of the staffers was wounded by shrapnel. I drove her to the hospital, which was completely full.”
The lack of information from authorities frustrated Lastochkin. "The police reported that the alleged meteor rain was known in advance. So why not warn people?" he said.
First person account from Metro Chelyabinsk editor Oleg Lastochkin
Armageddon came at 9:30am. I was at home when I first saw a blinding flash. At first, I thought it was a headlight but it blinded me for a moment. Five minutes after that flash, I felt a shock wave. Windows began to shatter, car sirens were roaring. And finally we heard an explosion... five or six of them.
My wife and I started to panic, wondering if a war had begun; we saw a trail in the sky, which was clearly not left by an airplane.
Everyone on the minibus taxi en route to the office were talking about the meteor. Some mobile phone networks stopped working.
When I arrived to the Metro office, there was broken glass all over the floor. The room was filled with flumes of dust. One of my staff was injured by glass shrapnel, so we took her to the hospital.
The police reported that the meteor shower was known in advance. So why didn't they warn people?