A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 11 tons streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured nearly 1,000 people and frightened countless more. In one city – Chelyabinsk – 100’s were hurt by shattered glass, and the local Chabad House suffered damage.
Shluchim Rabbi Meir and Devorah Leah Kirsh lead the Jewish Community of Chelyabinsk and their Shul and Chabad House suffered serious damage to almost all their beautiful stain-glass window’s which were shattered when the meteorite streaked by.
Nevertheless, the Shluchim are reporting that with the help of the community they are cleaning up and will be ready to open for services this Shabbos.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000 mph and shattered about 18-32 miles above ground.
The fall caused explosions that broke glass over a wide area. The Emergency Ministry says more than 500 people sought treatment after the blasts and that 34 of them were hospitalized.
“There was panic. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people’s houses to check if they were OK,” said Sergey Hametov, a resident of Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, the biggest city in the affected region.
“We saw a big burst of light then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound,” he told The Associated Press by telephone.
Another Chelyabinsk resident, Valya Kazakov, said some elderly women in his neighborhood started crying out that the world was ending.
Meteors typically cause sizeable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.
Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteor.
Amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 a.m. local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash.