In a cosmic coincidence of its kind, when all eyes were on the much hyped Asteroid 2012 Da14 that smoothly and harmlessly whizzed past Friday at a record-setting closeness to the Earth, a meteor shot across a city in central Russia in a spectacular fashion, exploding into fragments and throwing fireballs as it made its descent.
The shock wave that the fireball created over the industrial city of Chelyabinsk left windows blown into pieces and roofs collapsed with impact. About 1,200 people were injured mostly due to the broken glasses.
The meteor shower caused the largest impact in 100 years. At least 48 people were hospitalized, the Washington Post has reported.
As media across the globe were wondering how a hypothetical impact of Asteroid 2012 Da14 would look like, the meteor that flashed with blinding radiance and exploded into fragments across the Ural Mountains in Russia seemed to have given an answer.
The intense pressure and heat created by the 40-ton meteor travelling at a speed of 33,000 miles per hour shattered thousands of objects into pieces as it left a streak of smoke after flashing brilliantly over the sky at 9:20 a.m. local time Friday (10:20 p.m. EST Thursday), the Daily mail reported.
The newspaper reported that two among the injured were in intensive care units and 82 of them wer children. About 6,000 square feet of a roof of a zinc factory also collapsed.
The last time a meteor hit the Earth with similar impact was in Siberia, popularly known as "Tunguska event" in which an 800 square miles of forested area was leveled to ground, but there was no human casualties then.
Hours after the Russian incident, Asteroid 2012 Da14 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 17,200 miles at 2:25 p.m. EST at an area closer than that of the ring of man-made satellites, a mere one-tenth of the distance between Earth and the Moon.
"It's like a shooting gallery here. We have two rare events of near-Earth objects approaching the Earth on the same day," NASA scientist Paul Chodas said during the telecast of the event showing the live images of the Asteroid from Australia.
Chodas said that "it's simply a coincidence" that two cosmic rocks came near the Earth on the same day, although with different effects.
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