As reported by the Huffington Post, a Russian health official says nearly 1,000 people have sought help for injuries caused by a meteor that exploded in the sky, blasting out countless windows.
Chelyabinsk health chief Marina Moskvicheva, said Friday that 985 people in her city had asked for medical assistance. The Interfax news agency quoted her as saying 43 were hospitalized.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor – estimated to be about 10 tons – entered the Earth’s atmosphere going at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph). It shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above the ground, releasing several kilotons of energy above the Ural Mountains.
“I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day,” said Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains.
“I felt like I was blinded by headlights,” he said.
No fatalities were reported but President Vladimir Putin, who was due to host Finance Ministry officials from the Group of 20 nations in Moscow, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were informed.
Space experts are divided on whether the meteor is connected to today’s fly-by of asteroid DA14, which will pass within 17,200 miles of the earth’s surface, closer than many orbiting satellites.
The European Space Agency (ESA) put out a message on its official Twitter account claiming that the meteor shower was not debris from the DA14 asteroid.
However, Tatiana Bordovitsina, an astronomy professor at Tomsk State University in western Siberia, told RIA Novosti that the meteor, “could have been debris preceding the asteroid.”
Professor Ian Crawford of Birkbeck University told Sky News that, “it was too early to tell if this incident was connected to the asteroid passing by the earth tonight,” but added that if meteorites were traveling with the asteroid, they would be several hours ahead of it.