A meteorite streaked across the sky over Russia, producing a sonic boom that shattered glass and collapsed roofs. The unexpected occurence resulted in more than 500 reports of injuries in rural Siberia.
Researchers have stated that preliminary findings indicate the space rock weighed around 10 tons and descended over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday.
The meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere near the area of Chelyabinsk and was traveling at more than 33,0000 mph before disintegrating in the lower stratosphere, about 25 miles up, according to a statement released by The Russian Academy of Sciences.
"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were OK," Sergey Hametov told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
"We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound," he added.
The subsequent sonic boom resulted from the meteor exploding due to the rapid change in atmospheric pressure and it caused more than 500 people to seek treatment from injuries, the Emergency Ministry revealed. Many had suffered cuts and bruises from shattering glass or other small objects being disturbed by the sound wave.
Astronomers stated that this unusual event was not connected to the asteroid that is supposed to pass by Earth on Friday.
The asteroid, known 2012 DA14, was first discovered by a group of novice star gazers in Spain last year and will come closer to the Earth than any previously recorded space body.
The asteroid will not break any size records given that it is roughly 150 feet in diameter, but the projected orbit has the space rock coming within 17,000 miles of Earth. That is closer than the orbit of geostationary satellites that travel around the Earth 24,000 miles above the surface.
The incident also produced calls from government officials that systems need to be developed at protect residents of Earth from falling bodies.
"At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies" Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister, told Interfax news agency.