A meteorite fell in central Russia early Friday sending debris and flames over the region and injuring more than 400 people, local media reported.
According to a Reuters report, commuters in Chelyabinsk, an industrial city 1,500 km (950 miles) east of Moscow, witnessed the meteorite fall from the sky before they heard what sounded like an explosion accompanied by bright light.
Video of the rare meteorite shows what looks like a fireball blazing across the sky, leaving a long white trail in its path. Car alarms went off, windows shattered and mobile phone networks were interrupted, Reuters reports.
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," Viktor Prokofiev, 36, a resident of Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains, total a local Reuters correspondent.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he said.
While no fatalities were reported as a result of the meteorite, 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.
Experts are linking the Friday’s extremely rare event to an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool due to pass Earth at a distance of 27,520 km (17,100 miles). The link between the two objects has not yet been confirmed.
Russia's Emergencies Ministry told reporters 514 people had sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, and that 112 of those were kept in hospital. Search groups were set up to look for the remains of the meteorite.
"There have never been any cases of meteorites breaking up at such a low level over Russia before," Yuri Burenko, head of the Chelyabinsk branch of the Emergencies Ministry, said.
Reports from the meteorite falling indicate that a loud noise, resembling an explosion, rang out at around 9.20 a.m. (12:20 a.m. ET). The shockwave could be felt in apartment buildings in the industrial city's center.
"I was standing at a bus stop, seeing off my girlfriend," a local resident who did not give his name told a local Reuters correspondent. "Then there was a flash and I saw a trail of smoke across the sky and felt a shockwave that smashed windows."
A team of 20,000 rescuers was alerted following the incident, although the Emergency Ministry said they were not expecting any more meteor debris to fall from the sky.
The meteorite crash in Russia happened at nearly the same time that people were watching for the 2012 DA14 asteroid, which will come close to the Earth on Friday.
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