Injury count rises for Russian meteorite

The latest reports say about 1,000 people were injured, mostly by glass shards sent flying by the meteor's window-shattering sonic blasts.

The meteor lit up the early morning sky on its way down to the ground. Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

The latest tally of meteorite-related injuries in Russia's Chelyabinsk region has reached about 1,000 -- most suffered from shards of glass that went flying when the meteor entered the atmosphere and sounded loud, window-shattering booms on its way to the ground earlier today.

Today has been an unusually active day for news involving big rocks from space. While the large Asteroid 2012 DA14 is passing closer to the surface of Earth than many of our satellites, an apparently unrelated meteorite streaked across the early morning Siberian sky, damaging buildings and thus injuring people in its path.

A Russian news agency is reporting that an impact crater has been found 50 miles from the city of Chelyabinsk and that some small meteor fragments have been recovered. This particular area of Russia is home to a number of nuclear facilities, and The New York Times reports that a massive government response sent over 10,000 people into the field to look for spots where meteorites may have stuck. Monitoring for radiation leaks from damage has so far come up all negative, according to the report.

Speculation that the meteor could be a harbinger of something darker is, of course, rampant. One Russian politician claimed that the meteorite strike was in fact a test of a new, American weapon, while a cleric in the country said it was a warning from God. Still others speculated that it had something to do with the fly-by of Asteroid 2012 DA14 -- something that European space officials say is absolutely not the case.

These videos include the meteorite's bright streak and frightening sonic blast:

 

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