Russia meteor eyewitness: 'Something like the sun fell'

media captionAstronomer Elizabeth Pearson: "It's a rare event, but we could be better prepared for the after-effects"

One person likened the event to the sun falling to Earth, another described the aftermath in his city as akin to a war zone - such was the impact of a meteor strike on people in Russia's Ural mountains region.

Sergei Serskov, who lives and works in the city of Chelyabinsk, was in his office at about 09:20 (03:20 GMT) when he was startled by a bright flash through the window.

"I looked out the window and saw a huge line of smoke, like you get from a plane but many times bigger," he told BBC News.

"A few minutes later the window suddenly came open and there was a huge explosion, followed by lots of little explosions. It felt like a war zone and it lasted about 20 to 30 minutes."

As a result of the blast, windows were smashed across the city, where the temperature for Friday night is forecast to dip to minus 14C.

media captionWitness Polina Zolotarevskaya describes the impact

Many people took their children out of school, and hospitals were also affected, Mr Serskov said.

He added that his company, which is in the construction sector, would be helping to re-glaze the city of 1.1 million.

'Scared to death'

Messages posted on Twitter, and rounded up by Russian news website, convey the shock felt locally.

"I was scared to death when a bright flash went off," wrote one female user.

"Ran to Mummy and we got an awful jolt, like an earthquake. The cat was so frightened it was scrabbling at the radiator."

A schoolchild wrote: "We're sitting in geometry, minding our own business. Then this flash has us all glued to the window! Alien invasion?"

In Yekaterinburg, a city 200km (125 miles) north of Chelyabinsk, the leader of rock band Smysloviye Gallyutsinatsii (Sonic Hallucinations) shared his impressions in a post on social media.

"I was smoking outside the door when I looked up at the sky and suddenly the sky lit up with a bright light and something that looked like the sun fell somewhere to the south of Yekaterinburg," wrote Sergei Bobunets, quoted by AFP news agency.

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