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Meteorite suspected of causing explosions, damage in Russia

An object struck a factory wall 900 miles east of Moscow, breaking windows and setting alarms. A YouTube video shows trace of object falling from the sky.

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Steven Musil
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A still from a YouTube video shows an object falling from the sky over Russia earlier Friday. YouTube

A meteorite may have caused a series of powerful explosions about 900 miles east of Moscow that injured more than 100 people on Friday, Russian emergency officials say.

Witnesses said one meteorite damaged a zinc factory in the Chelyabinsk region and disrupted the city's Internet and mobile service. The blast reportedly set off a shock wave that broke nearby windows and set off car alarms.

"It was definitely not a plane," emergency officials told Reuters. "We are gathering the bits of information and have no data on the casualties so far."

Meteor over Russia! (pictures)

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Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov told the Associated Press that 102 people had requested medical assistance for treatment of injuries mostly related to glass broken by the explosions.

Officials suspected the blast may have been caused by a meteor shower. One preliminary report had the blast occurring at an altitude of about 30,000 feet. Another report from a less-than-reliable source held that the meteorite was destroyed before impact, but there's little evidence of the that in videos that captured the images and audio of the event.

Traces of the falling object were captured on a series of videos (see below) filmed in the skies over Yekaterinburg, about 125 miles northwest of Chelyabinsk. Many were captured by drivers via dashboard-mounted cameras apparently setup to record accidents in a country were insurance fraud is rampant.

The suspected strike occurred on the same day that a 150 foot-wide asteroid is expected to complete a remarkably close, but safe, flyby of the Earth. Coincidentally, the last time an asteroid this size smacked into the Earth was in 1908 in Tuguska, Siberia.