The most breathtaking pictures yet of Russian meteorite: Photographer captured exploding space rock on camera… despite thinking it was nuclear bomb that would kill him
A professional photographer today told of the moment he feared a nuclear bomb had gone off when the Russian meteorite tore through the sky as he took pictures of an idyllic rural scene.
Marat Akhmetaleyev, 31, had just set up his tripod when the space rock lit up the crisp, morning sky almost where his camera was pointing.
Despite trembling with shock, he instinctively started to snap away.
Atomic angst: This incredible picture of the Russian meteorite was taken by professional photographer Marat Akhmetaleyev who feared it was a nuclear bomb
Shocking: Despite trembling with fear, Mr Akhmetaleyev instinctively started snapping away as the space rock lit up the sky
He told the Siberian Times:‘When the flash was as bright as possible, I felt strong heat in my face and strong pain in my eyes of intolerable glare. It lasted just a split second.
‘My thoughts were confused and spontaneous. The first thing I thought was not a meteorite, but a nuclear bomb.
‘Then I remembered the media reports about a possible asteroid and its approach to the Earth. Then there was the idea that a plane had crashed.’
Around two minutes after the flash, Mr Akhmetaleyev said he heard a series of ‘clear and powerful’ blasts as the meteorite exploded with the force of 30 Hiroshima bombs.
He added: ‘Immediately after that there was a series of bombings over the pine forest, a large number of birds rose up and flew in all directions.
‘My heartbeat, breathing, and hand tremors only got worse. The shock was even bigger’.
Mr Akhmetaleyev, who stood there ‘stunned’ for quite some afterwards, has now released his incredible pictures.
The 100,000-tonne meteorite exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains on Friday, injuring nearly 1,500 people and causing widespread property damage in city of Chelyabinsk.
The debris narrowly missed a direct and devastating hit on the industrial city which has a population of 1.13 million but spread panic through its streets as the sky above lit up with a blinding flash.
Measuring around 55 feet in diameter, scientists claim it is the biggest space rock to have hit earth in more than a century.
It created a huge hole in a frozen lake when it crashed into the ground.
Scientists have found more than 50 tiny fragments of the meteor, allowing them to uncover information about its contents.
But local residents have been more interested in the black market value of the fragments since the dramatic incident, as a ‘gold mine’ has been kickstarted fior the valuable pieces.
As they search for their own pieces of the meteor, rocks have already been put on the internet for sale, and police are warning all purchasers to prepare for possible fraud.