Photo Credit: Daily MailSome feared a plane was about to fall out of the sky while others thought the world was ending.
In fact, it was a meteor streaking across the sky before exploding in a fireball brighter than the sun.
The terrifying sight was caught in these astonishing pictures by residents of central Russia as they headed to work yesterday.
A thunderous ‘sonic boom’ shattered windows, rocked buildings and interrupted mobile phone networks.
Almost 1,000 people were injured by flying fragments of glass and rubble – at least 112 seriously.
Footage taken by ‘dashcams’ – dashboard cameras common in the cars of Russians in case of accidents on winter roads or disputes with corrupt traffic police – mean the supersonic blaze has been captured, and shared with the world, in unprecedented detail.
The burst of light and thunderous sound were caused by a 40-ton meteor penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 33,000mph.
As it raced through the sky, the 50-foot wide chunk of space rock compressed the air ahead of it, creating the enormous temperatures that meant it exploded in a fireball somewhere between 18 and 32 miles above the ground at around 9.20am local time.
Although some debris fell to earth, ‘whipping up a pillar of ice, water and steam’ and creating a 20-foot-wide crater, the damage in nearby towns was actually caused by shockwaves created by the meteor breaking the sound barrier and then exploding.
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