MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - Just under half of the people in the Russian city hit by fragments from a falling meteorite earlier this month saw the celestial visitor streak across the early morning sky, but only a small number correctly identified it, an opinion poll indicated on Friday.
Others believed they were witnessing a plummeting plane, a military attack, or a UFO, the poll by the Moscow-based Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) said.
Chunks of rock and the shock wave from a massive flaming meteorite injured more than 1,500 people and damaged thousands of buildings in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk on February 15 in the most spectacular recorded case ever of a cosmic object hitting an inhabited area of the Earth.
The poll found that 47 percent of the population of Chelyabinsk, with a population of around one million, saw the meteorite with their own eyes.
Of those who saw the meteorite’s spectacular arrival, ten percent correctly guessed what they were seeing, the pollster found. Forty percent believed it was a falling plane, while eight percent thought it was a rocket launch gone wrong.
Six percent believed it was an explosion of some kind, while five percent believed the city was under attack by rocket fire. Five percent also believed it was the start of a war.
Four percent thought it was a UFO, while just one percent believed it was the end of the world.
Twenty-six percent of respondents said the event had changed their outlook on life.
The majority believed the meteorite zoomed across Chelyabinsk entirely at random, but 14 percent believed it was no coincidence.
The telephone survey was carried out among 500 respondents on February 23-24. The margin of error does not exceed 4.5 percent.