A meteor punched through Earth’s atmosphere around 9:20 a.m. local time (12:20 a.m. EST) and then exploded over central Russia some 950 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow. As of noon local time, as many as 1,000 people had reported injuries from the blast, and an official from the National Center for Emergency Situations at the Russian Interior Ministry says 3,000 buildings have sustained damage.
Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, estimates the bolide, a brilliant fireball that explodes midair, was traveling some 67,000 mph (108,000 km/h) and weighed about 11 tons. Its explosion, which released several kilotons of energy, created a shock wave that broke windows and injured citizens. [Editor’s note: later updated to 40,265mph, 7,000 metric tons, and 300 to 500 kilotons of energy] The debris from the breakup left at least three impact sites. Some 20,000 emergency workers will assist with the response efforts, RIA Novosti, a state-run news agency, reports.
Although this astronomical event occurred on the same day that asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make a close pass by Earth, the two rocky bodies are not related.
For up-to-the-minute reports from Russia and photos of the impact site, visit the country’s first English-language news channel, RT.com.
The first video below is a compilation of eyewitness videos gathered by RT.com. The second is a local’s video that includes the sonic boom that accompanied the explosion. (WARNING: You might want to turn down the sound on your computer.)