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Published:February 15th, 2013 22:37 EST

(Video) Breaking News: Meteorite Crashes into Russia, Over 1000 Injured

By John Pustelnik

A meteorite shattered over Chelyabinski, Russia on Friday with a force of 20 atomic bombs, injuring more than 1000 people.


The meteorite crashed into Earth a few hours before a record-breaking asteroid passed near Earth. There have been no reports that the two events were connected.

According to NASA, the meteorite was traveling at a speed of about 40,000 mph (64,370 kph) when it shattered into pieces at about 12 to 15 miles (19 to 24 kilometers) above the Earth`s surface.

"There was panic. People had no idea what was happening," said Sergey Hametov of Chelyabinsk. "We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud, thundering sound."

NASA estimates that the meteorite was about 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter, had a mass of several thousand tons, and exploded at a force 20 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, but exploded at a much higher elevation.

"The atmosphere absorbed the vast majority of that energy," said Amy Mainzer, a scientist at NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

According to city officials, the shock wave caused by the meteorite shattered glass at distance of about 100,000 square meters (over one million square feet.)

"This is indeed very rare and it is historic," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA. "These fireballs happen about once a day or so, but we just don`t see them because many of them fall over the ocean or in remote areas."

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