Moscow: Following a meteor streaking across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains, gas supplies were cut off to hundreds of homes in the Chelyabinsk region on Friday as a safety precaution and some 3,000 buildings were reported to have been damaged, Ria Novosti news agency quoted officials as saying.
A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs, but much of the impact was felt in the city of Chelyabinsk, some 200 km south of Yekaterinburg.
President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas, promising “immediate” aid for people affected. Kindergartens and schools had been damaged, and work disrupted at industrial enterprises.
Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite. They said in a statement, “According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/second.”
Asteroids are small bodies that orbit the Sun as the Earth does. Larger asteroids are called planetoids and smaller ones are called meteoroids.
The Russian Academy of Sciences the meteor would have shattered about 30-50 km above ground, with most of the meteor burning up. Army units found three meteorite debris impact sites, two of which are in an area near Chebarkul Lake, west of Chelyabinsk. The third site was found near the town of Zlatoust.
Meanwhile, the Russian Army has joined the rescue operations. Army units are searching for meteorite debris in several places in Chelyabinsk region and in the neighbouring Tyumen region.