Jolted from bed by meteor blast

Michael Garnett had hit the snooze button on his alarm clock, hoping to catch a few more minutes of sleep before heading to hockey practice Friday morning, when a tremendous blast jolted him out of bed.

The walls of his apartment in Chelyabinsk, the biggest city affected by a meteor that streaked over Russia's Ural Mountains, were shuddering as he heard glass shattering and car alarms going off outside.

"My light fixtures were swaying back and forth. At that point I was just terrified," said the Saskatoon native, who plays in the professional Kontinental Hockey League for the Traktor Chelyabinsk.

"I thought either it was an explosion or a plane crash."

When he was able to collect himself, the 30-year-old looked out his window and saw a trace of the meteor that had torn through the sky moments earlier.

"I saw a huge streak across the sky. I didn't really know what was going on," he said.

The Russian Academy of Sciences said the meteor, estimated to be about 10 tons, entered the Earth's atmosphere going at least 54,000 kilometres per hour. It shattered about 30-50 kilometres above the ground, its sonic booms blasting out countless windows, damaging vehicles and other property.

By Friday evening local time, a health official in Chelyabinsk, a city of 1 million about 1,500 kilometres east of Moscow, said 985 people had asked for medical assistance and 43 were hospitalized for injuries related to the meteor's explosion. Many were treated for cuts from broken glass.

It was not immediately clear if any people were struck by space fragments.

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