Updated 12:10 PM ET: While details are still coming in, sources in Russia believe that an ultra-bright 10-ton meteor, also known as a bolide, disintegrated some 20 or 30 miles above the Earth's surface in the skies of western Siberia. An accompanying sonic boom caused damage over a wide radius.
The New York Times reports that "Russia's Interior Ministry said more than 1,000 people were injured, 200 of them children, mostly from shards of glass that shattered when the meteor entered the atmosphere," and that the "governor of the Chelyabinsk district," the area that right now appears to have received the brunt of the damage and injuries, "reported that a search team had found an impact crater on the outskirts of a city about 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk." While it's unclear if raining fragments attributed to much of the damage, Russia's Interior Ministry claims to have found three large meteorite chunks, with 10,000 police officers looking for more.
The New York Times adds:
"The government response on Friday was huge. Seven airplanes were deployed to search for places where meteorites might have fallen and more than 20,000 people dispatched to comb the area on foot, according to the Ministry of Emergency Situations. There were also 28 sites designated to monitor radiation. No unusual readings had been detected, the ministry reported."
Our original post, including updates and tons of video, continues below.
Uh, holy cow. What appears to be a huge meteor just passed over a Russian town called Chelyabinsk. We don't know much about exactly how big this thing was, but it produced a shockwave that shattered windows all over the place, and it was easily bright enough to rival the sun. Again, this just happened, so we don't have much in the way of official information, but watch these videos:
Those secondary bangs could be smaller pieces trailing the main mass of the meteorite, leaving their own shockwaves. Here's another:
And here's some footage of what it looked like coming in:
A different perspective, even scarier:
Security cam footage shows just how incredibly bright this thing was (skip ahead to about :40):
Things get even crazier, with this report from RT:
According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo reportedly blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers.
We'll have to wait for official confirmation on that one, although it seems unlikely. What seems more likely is that the meteor blew up on its own in the atmosphere, some tens of kilometers up, although many fragments may have fallen to the ground.
Here's the location:
We're also seeing some pictures from Twitter showing significant damage in a few areas, although the exact cause is unclear. Up to 150 people are reported injured, although none seriously.
Note that it is unlikely that this event has anything to do with asteroid 2012 DA14, which will be making a close pass to Earth later today. See update below.
We'll be updating this post as more information becomes available.
UPDATE 3:53 AM ET: Injuries are now reported to be over 400, mostly from broken glass. Buildings damaged in six cities in Russia.
UPDATE 4:16 AM ET: More videos. This is nuts.
Update 4:24 AM ET: The European Space Agency has tweeted: "ESA experts at #ESOC confirm *no* link between #meteor incidents in #Russia & #Asteroid #2012DA14 Earth flyby tonite #SSA #NEO." We're not sure how they determined this, but my guess would be that they've figured out that it came in on a completely different trajectory or something.