A believed meteor impact caused hundreds of injuries and damaged buildings in western Siberia early Friday, news sources report.
Russia's Interior Ministry said more than 1,000 people were injured, including 200 children, when the meteor entered the atmosphere with a thundering shock wave that sent shards of shattered glass cutting into people, the New York Times reports.
The meteor disintegrated above the Ural Mountains, burning up in the lower atmosphere, Al Jazeera reports. Fragments of it fell crashed to earth, falling in sparsely populated areas around the industrial city of Chelyabinsk.
Video clips from the area show a brilliant flash illuminating the morning sky, followed soon after by the sound of breaking glass and multiple car alarms going off, the New York Times reports.
Chelyabinsk lies in Russia's industrial heartland, a region filled with smoke-spewing factories and large nuclear facilities, according to Al Jazeera. Chelyabinsk itself is the site of dozens of defense factories, some involved in the production of thermonuclear weapons.
The Russian government dispatched seven airplanes to search the area for fallen meteorites, and 20,000 people were sent to comb the area on foot, the New York Times reports.
The meteor impact happened just as a small asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, is expected to pass the Earth later Friday, the New York Times reports. Experts, however, claim that the asteroid and the meteor are unrelated and claim that their close encounters with Earth within a narrow time frame is a "cosmic coincidence."