People in the Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk regions reported seeing “burning objects” in the sky, which also fell on the cities of Yekaterinburg and Tyumen – a sparsely populated area of about 500km (310 miles).
About 600 sq m (6,000 sq ft) of a roof at a zinc factory collapsed, the Associated Press quoted an interior ministry spokesman as saying.
The Chelyabinsk region is Russia’s industrial heartland, an area that has many factories, a nuclear power plant and the Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.
The emergencies ministry said that thousands of rescue workers had been dispatched to the area to provide help to the injured.
Officials say that the shower began after a large meteorite disintegrated above the Urals mountain range and partially burned up in the lower atmosphere – resulting in fragments falling earthwards throughout the Chelyabinsk region.
Coming just hours before the close pass of 2012 DA14, some in the region may well have been thinking the end had come as a series of massive explosive sounds echoed around the region: