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20,000 Pound Meteor Explodes over Russia, Injuring Hundreds

- Common Dreams staff

The dramatic footage captured by a dashboard video camera in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia in the nation's south-central shows what scientists say was a more than 10 ton meteor entering the atmosphere at over 33,000 miles per hour.

Once meteors break through the atmosphere and explode, the pieces that actually hit the Earth's surface are called meteorites. It is so far unclear how much damage on the ground -- and over how large an area -- was caused by actually pieces of the exploded object or by the sonic boom that accompanied the initial explosion. Expert observers calculate that the meteor "pancaked" and incinerated approximately 25 miles above the ground.

The Associated Press reports:

The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says more than 500 people sought treatment after the blasts and that 34 of them were hospitalized.

"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, about 1500 kilometers (930 miles) east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.

"We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Captured from another angle:

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