“President Vladimir Putin said he thanked God no big fragments had fallen in populated areas.”

As I mentioned previously, asteroid 2012 DA14 is due to make its close encounter with Earth later this evening.  Meanwhile, earlier today several hundred people in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia were injured during a visitation by the god Ogdy by debris caused by the unexpected appearance of a relatively large meteor.  It’s reported that a crater 6m (20ft) wide has been found on the shore of a lake 1km outside Chebarkul, a town in the region – created by a fragment of the meteor.  Here’s a short compilation of some of the many videos out there, from Russia Today.

The Guardian is still live-blogging the aftermath and has many more video clips.

From the BBC report

The Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that the meteor weighed about 10 tonnes and entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of at least 54,000 km/h (33,000mph).

It would have shattered about 30-50km (18-32 miles) above ground, with most of the meteor burning up.

Scientists have played down suggestions that there is any link between the event in the Urals and 2012 DA14, an asteroid expected to race past the Earth on Friday at a distance of just 27,700km (17,200 miles) – the closest ever predicted for an object of that size.

Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, of the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, said there was “almost definitely” no connection.

“One reason is that 2012 DA14 is approaching Earth from the south, and this object hit in the northern hemisphere,” he told BBC News.

“This is literally a cosmic coincidence, although a spectacular one.”

[Where’s Jupiter when you need him?! – Ed]  Let’s just be careful out there…

Adds  According to Nasa/JPL

The Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia. The meteor entered the atmosphere at about 40,000 mph (18 kilometers per second). The impact time was 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15), and the energy released by the impact was in the hundreds of kilotons.

Based on the duration of the event, it was a very shallow entry. It was larger than the meteor over Indonesia on Oct. 8, 2009. Measurements are still coming in, and a more precise measure of the energy may be available later. The size of the object before hitting the atmosphere was about 49 feet (15 meters) and had a mass of about 7,000 tons.

The meteor, which was about one-third the diameter of asteroid 2012 DA14, was brighter than the sun. Its trail was visible for about 30 seconds, so it was a grazing impact through the atmosphere.

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