A synagogue in Siberia was lightly damaged by a meteorite that fell nearby on Friday.
Rabbi Yechiel Michel Levitin, director of the Or Avner Jewish day school in Chelyabinsk, a city located 1,000 miles east of Moscow, was quoted by an Israeli website as saying congregants heard a huge explosion during morning prayers followed by a bright flash that lit up the sky.
“Glasses shattered and people tried to escape, but they weren’t sure were to go,” Levitin told COL, a media outlet affiliated with Chabad. “Outside we were told a meteor had fallen from the space.”
A meteor that scientists estimate weighed 10 tons (11 tons) streaked at supersonic speed over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, setting off blasts that injured some 900 people and frightened countless more. Videos posted on YouTube by drivers in the area showed a bright orb streaking the early morning sky.
The Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement that the meteor over the Chelyabinsk region entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above ground.
Meteors typically cause sizable sonic booms when they enter the atmosphere because they are traveling much faster than the speed of sound. Injuries on the scale reported Friday, however, are extraordinarily rare.
Levitin uploaded photos of the Chelyabinsk synagogue’s stained-glass windows, which he said were shattered by the shock waves. The rabbi said one congregant was spared serious injury when a large shard of glass landed in his seat seconds after he went to the window to investigate the cause of the blast.
“It was a real miracle,” Levitin said, according to COL. Levitin said authorities were telling residents to stay indoors while they were investigating the incident.