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Meteor Explosion of Atomic Bomb Strength Injures 1,000 in Russia

February 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports that 10-ton meteor that fell over Russia with atomic bomb power. The meteor caused a fireball, blowing out windows and injuring 1,000 people.
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TRANSCRIPT

JUDY WOODRUFF: It looked like a scene from a movie, but it was all too real. A meteor came crashing down to Earth today, triggered a fireball over Russia, and sent people running for cover.

Parts of the meteor fell on the city of Chelyabinsk, population over a million, about 1,000 miles due west of Moscow on the edge of the Ural Mountains. The strike shocked and stunned the world. More than 1,000 people were injured.

Paul Davies of Independent Television News begins our coverage.

PAUL DAVIES: Emerging from the Russian sky, a giant ball of flame, a meteorite providing a spectacular show, until it suddenly explodes 30 miles above the Earth.

The city of Chelyabinsk was unlucky to be beneath the meteorite’s flight path and was showered with debris dropping from the sky. Thousands of windows were smashed. Shocked workers evacuated their offices. This school class is about to be interrupted by the shockwave. Here, the windows come crashing in, and a national judo squad runs for cover.

Canadian ice hockey star Michael Garnett plays for the Chelyabinsk team and lives in the city.

MICHAEL GARNETT, Professional Hockey Player: I was awakened by this loud bang, crash and shaking in my apartment that, you know, literally shook me out of bed. I kind of gathered myself and then I looked out the window and I saw this giant streak across the sky that was the tail of the meteor.

PAUL DAVIES: The last minutes of the meteorite’s journey were captured by hundreds of cameras as it crossed Central Russia at a speed of around 20 miles a second, briefly casting a shadow over the communities below, before passing on.

CCTV in this office recorded the moment its journey ended. People on the ground have been injured, most cut by flying glass. Russian authorities say there is no lasting danger, though. Radiation levels in the area are normal. But no one who witnessed this visitor from space in its final moments is ever likely to forget it.