A meteor shower has reportedly exploded over central Russia, blowing out windows and injuring hundreds of people.
Burning rocks could be seen crashing into the Ural region for hundreds of kilometres as the ground shook, windows shattered, mobile phones stopped working, car alarms went off and the air smelt like gunpowder, witnesses said.
Three people were in a critical condition and up to 250 people were left injured after the meteor shower.
People were reportedly injured by flying glass at a school and a falling object is believed to have crashed into a zinc factory in the area.
Residents said the explosions were so loud that it seemed like an earthquake and thunder had hit at the same time.
Russian officials said they had received reports of injuries and damaged buildings after the meteorite or meteor shower fell in the Chelyabinsk region about 1500km east of Moscow early Friday morning local time.
"There was a meteor shower, without fragments falling to the ground," an emergencies ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency.
"The shock wave blew out windows in several places."
There have been conflicting reports over whether it one or several meteorites exploded in the lower atmosphere.
There are now reportedly 20,000 rescue workers operating in the area.
Author: Alexandra Pleffer, Approving editor: Nick Pearson