A meteor streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural mountains today morning, causing explosions and injuring up to 1,000 people.
The Russian Academy of Sciences estimated the object weighed about 10 tons.
The academy said that the meteor entered Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above ground.
"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk.
Some meteor fragments fell in a reservoir outside the town of Cherbakul, the regional governor's office said.
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound.
Injuries on this scale, however, are extraordinarily rare.
Interior Ministry sources said more than 1,000 people had sought medical treatment after the blasts, and at least 34 had been taken to hospital in serious condition.
Many of the injuries were from glass broken by the explosions.
Mr Kolesnikov also said that a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9.20am local time, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
Russian news reports noted that the meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid - about 17,150 miles.
But the European Space Agency said its experts had determined there was no connection.
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