Meteor Sparks Alarm and Awe in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Region

A huge fireball fell from the skies over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region early Friday, resulting in a powerful blast and a spate of dramatic eyewitness videos.

Reports from Russia suggested that the fireball was caused by a meteorite. “Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain,” the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted an emergency  official as saying. “We have information about a blast at 10,000-meter  (32,800-foot) altitude. It is being verified.”

Reuters reported that a witness in Chelyabinsk, 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow in Russia’s Ural Mountains, heard a huge blast early in the morning and felt a shock wave in a 19-story building  in the town center. The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, the  witness told Reuters, and mobile phones were working intermittently.

Russian news media quoted local residents as speculating that the blast could have been caused by a missile explosion or a military plane crash, but an unnamed emergency official told Reuters that was not the case. “It was definitely not a plane,” the official said, without  elaborating. “We are gathering the bits of information and have no data on the  casualties so far.”