News service RT (Russia Today) is reporting that a dramatic event has just unfolded over the Russian Urals region.
A fireball spotted shooting across the sky has just exploded in the stratosphere, causing concussive impacts and some reported debris to shatter windows and rock homes, injuring over 500 people across six cities.
Eyewitness videos and tweets have been emerging of the bizarre phenomena that was first spotted over the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk regions, Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan.
20,000 relief workers have been dispatched to the area while at least three planes are monitoring the landscape for more evidence of impact.
Officially, the regional Emergency Ministry said the phenomenon was a meteorite shower. With that said, reports are coming in that the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers, local newspaper Znak reports quoting a source in the military.
Thus far, these reports have gone unconfirmed.
Meanwhile, local officials are on high alert and have told parents to pick up their children from school and to keep themselves indoors. I’ve not been able to determine if this is because they believe further impact is possible. RT states that local police have begun ‘Operation Fortress’ in order to protect vital infrastructure.
Frighteningly, this area of Russia is in the depths of winter right now, and temperatures today are hovering around -6°C (21.2 F), meaning that many residents who have lost power or who are dealing with broken windows will be suffering until they’re able to remedy the situation.
Chelyabinsk regional governor Mikhail Yurevich is said to be rushing back to his region in order to help secure the damage, primarily to oversee the preservation of the city’s heating system. “Do not panic, this is an ordinary situation we can manage in a couple of days,” the governor said in and address to city residents.