Russia has deployed 20,000 rescue workers to the western Siberian region of Chelyabinsk, raising questions about the scale of damage from a meteorite that crashed into the suburbs of the industrial city early on Friday.
Russia’s emergency situations ministry said there were no fatalities but more than 900 people had been injured. Of those, 112 had already been hospitalised.
The meteorite, estimated at 10 tonnes, came hurtling into the earth’s atmosphere at 54,000 km an hour, bursting into fragments about 50km above ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said.
It broke apart about 50 miles from Chelyabinsk, 950 miles east of Moscow, shattering glass and setting off car alarms across the area. The meteorite left a streak of white smoke in its wake that was visible from up to 200km away in Yekaterinburg in the Urals, while damage from the fall was also reported as far south as Kazakhstan.
It hit the ground outside the town of Chebarkul, shattering the windows of hospitals, apartment buildings and schools, and leaving the interiors exposed to the -18C cold.
On Russian television, residents of this town of 45,000 people described seeing a trail of white smoke “like jet streams from a plane” whoosh through the air, accompanied by a blinding light and followed by a large boom. Many had run to their windows to catch a better look before being showered by glass when the windows shattered – a reason so many people were hospitalised.
rescue: the act of taking people out of danger
to raise questions: to cause one to think, to make you wonder, to question
to hurtle: to travel at extremely high speed
to burst: to explode
to set off: to turn on, to incite, to cause
a streak: a line, a continuation of
to catch a better look: to have a better vision