MOSCOW—A meteor flew across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and injuring more than 400 people, many of them hurt by broken glass.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, the biggest city in the affected region. Chelyabinsk is about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow.

"We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he said in a telephone interview.

Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, the Emergency Ministry said in a statement.


A contrail above an apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk; Russian officials said a meteorite or a shower of meteorites fell in the area, collapsing one roof and causing more than 100 injuries.

Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said more than 400 people had sought medical treatment after the blasts, and at least three were hospitalized in serious condition. Many of the injuries were from glass that was broken by the explosions.

Kolsenikov said about 600 square meters (6,500 square feet) of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed.

Reports are conflicted on what happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, said there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.



Broken windows and debris inside a sports hall in Chelyabinsk after explosions caused by one or more meteorites rocked the region.

Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.

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