Witnesses describe 'a light like no other,' followed by horrendous blast
Witnesses of the falling meteor over the Russian Urals spoke of their shock at seeing a giant bright light in the sky, that many thought was a crashing plane
Agence France-Presse in Moscow
"I was driving in the car across the square. Suddenly the square lit up with a bright, bright light, not a normal light," said Chelyabinsk resident Vasily Rozhko.
Witnesses of the falling meteor over the Russian Urals spoke of their shock and horror on Friday at seeing a giant bright light in the sky that many thought was a crashing plane, followed by a loud explosion that blew out windows in many buildings.
"There were literally three or four seconds of bright light, then back to normal," Rozhko told Russian television. "As I could see from the car, this trail appeared. Then as I was driving, the explosion went off."
Officials initially made no announcement about the source of the explosion, sparking rumours among locals as members of the public turned to the internet to post homemade videos.
"It was as if a super-fast rocket flew past. One rocket flew past and then another one," one caller, Galina Mikhailova, the told Echo of Moscow in Chelyabinsk radio station after the incident.
"We were so scared, we ran out into the hallway ... we heard booming explosions," said another caller to the station, who did not give her name.
The first to report the incident were members of the public, the acting head of the emergency situations ministry in the neighbouring Sverdlovsk region, Valery Ustinov, told Ura.ru regional news website.
"At 9.20am the calls began that people had seen a fiery trail and possibly unidentified objects falling to Earth."
Witnesses posted videos filmed on mobile phones showing the flash and the white trail across the blue morning sky.
Gulnara Dudka filmed the trail of the meteorite over Chelyabinsk, as witnesses shouted "Did something blow up?" and "What was it - a plane?" in a video she posted on YouTube.
A minute-and-a-half after she began filming, a huge explosion rolled, triggering a chorus of car alarms, followed by several smaller blasts.
"My God!" Dudka can be heard saying. "I thought it had already fallen."
She said that she began filming a couple of minutes after seeing the flash in the sky.
Life News website posted video footage of children screaming in Chelyabinsk School Number 15 corridor and glass and pieces of wood from blown-out windows lying on the floor.
"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," teacher Valentina Nikolayeva, told Life News.
"At first I thought it was a plane falling, but there was no sound from the engine... after a moment a powerful explosion went off," said another Chelyabinsk witness, Denis Laskov.
"Many houses on our street had their windows blown out."
"Panic has begun in the city because it knocked out many windows. People are freezing - ou can imagine there aren't windows in hundreds of apartments," an unnamed witness in Chelyabinsk said in a televised phone call.