By Will Stewart and Jill Reilly
A terrifying meteorite shower left more than 950 people injured, buildings devastated and the mobile network wiped out when it hit Russia this morning.
Brightly burning rocks could be seen for miles as they crashed at around 9.20am local time and one bystander described it 'like a scene from the Armageddon movie.'
The meteorite is believed to have landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a town in the neighbouring Chelyabinsk region.
The city of Chelyabinsk, 900 miles east of Moscow and close to the Kazakhstan border, took the brunt of the super sonic impact.
The Russian Ministry of Emergencies says 950 people have been injured, 82 of them are children and two are in intensive care.
Many of the injured had bloodied faces and one child's back was seen covered in blood.
Tim O'Brien, associate director of the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory, said the injuries were caused when the meteor created a sonic boom.
'This reasonably large chunk of rock was moving faster than the speed of sound, maybe 20,000 miles per hour. It made a sonic boom in the atmosphere, and that hit buildings and shattered windows. That is what seems to have caused the injuries,' he explained.
However, there were no reports of fatalities and it was not immediately clear if any people were struck by fragments.
A six metre wide hole was found in the ground close to Lake Chebarkul, said Russian military sources cited by RIA Novosti news agency.
Earlier it was thought the main body of the meteorite had hit the lake.
'The meteorite that passed over the Chelyabinsk region fell into a body of water 1km from the city of Chebarkul,' said a statement posted on the website of Chelyabinsk governor, Mikhail Yurevich.
According to an unconfirmed report in Russia Today, the meteorite was intercepted by Russian air defense.
The strike came on the same day that Asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to skim the orbit of the Earth tonight.
But astronomers say that it is probably just a coincidence - Dr Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society told MailOnline: 'As I understand it, the Russian meteorite(s) were travelling from east to west whereas 2012 DA14 will be travelling from north to south.'
Chelyabinsk residents reported shaking ground, windows being shattered and car alarms being set off during the shower.
Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames and eyewitnesses spoke of several devastating explosions.
Mobile phones are only working intermittently and there were localised power cuts.
According to RT.com, the Urals regional centre of the Emergency Ministry claimed it sent out a mass text message warning residents about a possible meteorite shower.
The Russian Academy of Sciences is estimating the meteor weighed about 10 tons.
The academy said in a statement hours fall that the meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometres (18-32 miles) above ground.
One eyewitness Gulnara Dudka, in her 20s, gave a dramatic account of the meteorite, telling how she feared 'doomsday' had arrived, reported the Siberian Times.
'What was it? People said it was a plane that fell and exploded,' she said.
'I saw a bright blast from behind me. Everything was lit up, very bright light.
'It was like from Armageddon movie when the meteorite rain started, I really thought it was like doomsday.
'It was so scary especially the explosion. It was very strong. I am speechless. It was so strong. My camera couldn't reproduce how strong the bang was.'
'I was sitting at home and typing something on my computer. Suddenly there was a huge bright flash,' said Konstantin Zharinov, an historian and journalist from Chelyabinsk.
'At first I thought something happened at my neighbours place but a minute later the sound of the explosion came.'
He said 'many lost their windows, glass is everywhere in the streets'.
Children were left panic-stricken as windows smashed at School Number 15 in Chelyabinsk.
'First there was an unreal light that lit up all the classrooms on the right side of the school. That kind of light doesn't happen in life, only at the end of the world, then a trail appeared like from a plane but only 10 times bigger,' said teacher Valentina Nikolayeva.
Residents in one 19 storey block reported feeling the shockwaves of the explosions.
The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, said a witness, and there were reports that the internet and mobile networks were temporarily down.
The meteorite flew across the Russian sky from the direction of Kazakhstan, its trajectory going over southern Siberia, above the Tyumen, Kurgan and Sverdlovsk regions, said the head of the Urals regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry press service, Vadim Grebennikov.
The event has been well-documented - many drivers in Russia have video recorders fitted in their cars to record any accident or disputes.
Within an hour of the explosion, footage from these was uploaded to YouTube showing the fireball crashing to the ground.
Officials stressed that radiation levels remained normal amid fears that one of dozens of nuclear facilities in the region could have been hit.
'All Rosatom enterprises located in the Urals region -- including the Mayak complex -- are working as normal,' an unnamed Rosatom spokesman told Interfax.
Concern focused on nuclear warehouses of the Defense Ministry in Trekhgorny, in the South Urals, but officials insisted that there was no damage.
Russian news reports noted that the meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid - about 17,150 miles (28,000 kilometers).
But the European Space Agency, in a post on its Twitter account, said its experts had determined there was no connection.
Small pieces of space debris - usually parts of comets or asteroids - that are on a collision course with the Earth are called meteoroids.
When meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere they are called meteors.
Most meteors burn up in the atmosphere, but if they survive the frictional heating and strike the surface of the Earth they are called meteorites.
The dramatic events prompted an array of reactions from prominent Russian political figures.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, said the meteor could be a symbol for the forum, showing that 'not only the economy is vulnerable, but the whole planet.'
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the nationalist leader noted for vehement statements, said 'It's not meteors falling, it's the test of a new weapon by the Americans,' the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
'At the moment we are checking the territories and counting how many towns and settlements suffered from it.
'Preliminary information says the meteorite did not fall down but exploded in the air. '
Radiation levels were normal, said officials.
AMBASSADOR_OF_KOLOB wrote 91 Days Ago (positive)1And Vladimir Zhirinowski, you are a "dolt" for making statements that are clearly "not provable" but again, you may have embarrassed MR MEDVEDEV for making them, and I thank you for making comments that prove you are "just as paranoid" as the masons are!0 points AMBASSADOR_OF_KOLOB wrote 91 Days Ago (positive)1Since I am not using facebook, but do not want to leave Diane Hernandez without an answer, therefore I will respond, yes, Diane the Kings did not build those bunkers for no reason but the Illuminati, are just the 15th degree of Freemasonry it is called the Knight of Illuminati, but there is "no separate organization" any more called the Illuminati, but the Knights Templars are still around and in New York City they murdered William Morgan and then covered it up, just to let you know what is "really going on" and WE ARE NOW DOING WHAT WE HAVE TO to put enough pressure on the kings to allow the publication of a book, that will bring out all the truth, they have been suppressing about the fraternity for "centuries"!0 points AMBASSADOR_OF_KOLOB wrote 91 Days Ago (positive)1Final Statement before I sign off on the "glorious attack" of Russia, to remind them that "JUSTICE WILL SURELY OVERTAKE THEM" if they do not honor the rights of INTERNATIONAL JEWS to defend themselves against the "EVIL WICKEDNESS" of THOSE KINGS who stated in their day that
INTERNATIONAL JEWS ARE EVIL AND SEEK TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, I SEVERELY QUESTION THE IDEA THAT "both russian Czars" and US philanthropists get to publish evil lies, that they later either discredit or "PUKE OVER", as Henry Ford did after he realized the consequences of the lies he told about JEWS, but that INTERNATIONAL JEWS, have no right to "defend themselves" against EVIL DEFAMATION by wicked aristocrats that "to this day claim" that "JEWS ARE EVIL" and the MOSSAD IS TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE PLANET, I find this to be "INCREDIBLE", but MR MEDVEDEV DO YOU YOU BELIEVE THAT?0 points
AMBASSADOR_OF_KOLOB wrote 91 Days Ago (positive)1I now "solemnly affirm" without "equivocation and mental reservation" that the above messages written to address MR Medvedev do represent the Opinions of:
a) UNIVERSAL JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
b) THE INTERNATIONAL JEW, MR JOSHUA BETHEL
c) THE COUNCIL OF THE LEARNED ELDERS IN ZION
d) All Alien Civilizations in outer Space that have "UNIVERSAL LAW" as their basis!0 points
AMBASSADOR_OF_KOLOB wrote 91 Days Ago (positive)1This was a "warning shot", MR MEDVEDEV and no one was killed in the process, from this alone you can tell, we are "not interested in the shedding of blood", but I cannot say the same thing about the "EVIL CONSPIRACY" your evil kings have joined, you are "very much interested" in shedding the blood of man and have "done so throughout the centuries",mostly for the sake of gaining the ascendancy over planet earth, now if you want to deny it, and wish to go on record MR Medvedev that you are "not a mason" and never should be as "JOHN QUINCY ADAMS" did one time, then "make a bigger fool" out of yourself than you already are, please MAKE MY DAY!0 points
Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems Dream Chaser flight vehicle arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.