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Meteor Shower Over Russia Injures About 1,000

February 15, 2013

By The Deutsche Presse-Agentur


MOSCOW - A meteorite shower over central Russia injured some 1,000 people on Friday, authorities said, with most of the wounds caused by shards of flying glass.

The burning rocks damaged buildings and shook the ground as they crashed into six towns in the Chelyabinsk region, located in an area of the Urals some 930 miles east of Moscow.

Russian official said 200 children were among the injured, according to the Interfax news agency. Some 40 people remain in the hospital, including two with serious injuries. All schools and kindergartens in Chelyabinsk have been closed for the day.

Authorities said the damage could have been far worse had the meteorite fragments not fallen in such a sparsely populated area.

"There was a big fireball, which then descended. The whole thing lasted a few seconds," a resident of the area told Itar-Tass.

Residents also said they saw flashes, explosions and smoke clouds in the sky.

The nearby nuclear facility of Mayak was not affected, news reports quoted authorities as saying.

Substantial meteorites hit the earth every couple of months, but almost never hurt people, said the European Space Agency (ESA).

"This is the first time this has happened, at least as far our records go," said ESA spokesman Detlef Koschny in Darmstadt, Germany. "Mostly they land in the ocean, in deserts or in Siberia, so nothing much bad happens."

Also on Friday, an asteroid dubbed 2012 DA14 will pass very close to Earth, but there is no chance of it colliding with the planet, NASA said.

The agency said on its website that it would broadcast real-time animation of the fly-by and live or near real-time images of the asteroid from observatories in Australia, weather permitting.

The asteroid will fly closest to Earth at 1925 GMT, when it will be 17,150 miles above the planet`s surface, NASA said.


Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


Story image: In this frame grab made from a video done with a dashboard camera, a meteor streaks through the sky over Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. AP Photo/AP Video

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