Fox News, COL
A Russian health official says nearly 1,000 people have sought help for injuries after a meteor streaked through the sky and exploded Friday over Russia’s Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb.
The sonic blast from the hurtling space rock shattered countless windows and deeply frightened thousands, with some elderly women declaring the world was coming to an end.
The meteor — estimated to be about 10 tons — entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above the ground, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. It released the energy of several kilotons above the Chelyabinsk region, the academy said.
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.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time, just after sunrise, leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.
The explosions broke more than 1 million square feet of glass, city officials said.
The meteor struck the Chabad Shul in the main part of town, during morning prayers, shattering all the windows.
“We heard a huge explosion over the shul, but did not know what it was,” Shliach Rabbi Yechiel Levitin told COL.org.il. “There was glass shattering everywhere, people trying to escape – but there was nowhere to run,” he said. “Then we found out it was a meteor from space.”
Levitin described how one of the congregants ran outside to see what was happening, and a huge piece of glass fell in the spot where he had been sitting moments before. “It was clearly a huge miracle,” he said, his voice trembling.
The Shliach also related that it was a miracle that no one was in the Shul’s office at the time of the explosion, as there was great damage there as well.
Even though they were shaken, they continued morning prayers as usual, he said. “People come here to pray despite the cold, which is – 8. The congregation prayed as usual, and they along with Head Shliach Rabbi Meir Kirsch, were assisting the injured.
In addition, the explosion caused the collapse of the roof of a factory in the area, the size of 600 square meters. “Something exploded there and now there is air pollution here. We were told not to walk in the street,” said Rabbi Levitin.