The region of Chelyabinsk has long been a hub for the Russian military and defence industry, and it is often the site where artillery shells are decommissioned.
A local Emergencies Ministry official said meteor storms were extremely rare and Friday’s incident may have been connected with an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool that was due to pass Earth.
But an astronomer at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, Sergei Barabanov, poured doubt on that report. He said there was no evidence to support the theory that the meteor had travelled with the asteroid or had broken off from it.
The European Space Agency, on its Twitter microblog, also said its experts had confirmed there was no link.
The regional governor in Chelyabinsk said the meteorite shower had caused more than $30 million in damage, and the Emergencies Ministry said some 300 buildings had been affected.
One piece of meteorite broke through the ice of nearby Cherbakul Lake, leaving a hole several metres wide.
Despite warnings not to approach any unidentified objects, some enterprising locals were hoping to cash in.
“Selling meteorite that fell on Chelyabinsk!” one prospective seller, Vladimir, said on a popular Russian auction website. He attached a picture of a black piece of stone that on Friday afternoon was priced at 1,488 roubles ($49.46).