|A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris.|
Most of those hurt suffered minor cuts and bruises but some received head injuries, Russian officials report.
A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs.
The meteor is believed to have landed in a lake near Chebarkul, a town in the neighbouring Chelyabinsk region.
Much of the impact was felt in the city of Chelyabinsk, some 200km (125 miles) south of Yekaterinburg.
"It was quite extraordinary," Chelyabinsk resident Polina Zolotarevskaya told BBC News. "We saw a very bright light and then there was a kind of a track, white and yellow in the sky."
"The explosion was so strong that some windows in our building and in the buildings that are across the road and in the city in general, the windows broke."
Officials say a large meteor partially burned up in the lower atmosphere, resulting in fragments falling earthwards.
Thousands of rescue workers have been dispatched to the area to provide help to the injured, the emergencies ministry said.
The Chelyabinsk region, about 1,500km (930 miles) east of Moscow, is home to many factories, a nuclear power plant and the Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.
514 people injured in the Chelyabinsk region, 11 were being treated in hospital, the regional emergencies agency said in a statement.
Among those affected by the meteor were children, in school when it fell at around 09:20 (05:20 GMT).
Asteroids are small bodies that orbit the Sun as the Earth does
Larger asteroids are called planetoids or minor planets, smaller ones often called meteoroids
Once any of these enters our planet's atmosphere, it becomes a meteor
Many meteors break into pieces or burn up entirely as they speed through the atmosphere
Once meteors or fragments actually impact the surface, they become meteorites
"There was panic," Chelyabinsk resident Sergey Hametov told AP news agency by phone.
"We saw a big burst of light, then went outside to see what it was and we heard a really loud thundering sound. People had no idea what was happening. Everyone was going around to people's houses to check if they were okay."
Shockwaves were felt in a 19-storey building in the city centre, another witness said.
A roof at a zinc factory in Chelyabinsk also collapsed; however, it appears nobody was hurt in that incident.
In Yekaterinburg, 36-year-old resident Viktor Prokofiev was driving to work when he witnessed the event.
"It was quite dark, but it suddenly became as bright as if it was day," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights."
Debris also reportedly fell on the west Siberian region of Tyumen.
The governor of Chelyabinsk region, Mikhail Yurevich, reported that the meteor had landed in a lake 1km outside Chebarkul, which has a population of 46,000.
Chelyabinsk city authorities said an initial blast had been heard at an altitude of 10,000m (32,800ft), suggesting it occurred when the meteor entered Earth's atmosphere, Reuters reports.
|The Tunguska Meteor Strike in 1908 caused huge devastation|
That event smashed windows as far as 200 km (125 miles) from the point of impact.
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."
Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite:
“According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/s.”
According to estimates by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the space object weighed about 10 tons before entering Earth’s atmosphere.
|The trail of a falling object is seen above a residential apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk|
A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from space objects such as asteroids or comets, ranging in size from tiny to gigantic.
When a meteorite falls on Earth, passing through the atmosphere causes it to heat up and emit a trail of light, forming a fireball known as a meteor, or shooting or falling star.
A bright flash was seen in the Chelyabinsk, Tyumen and Sverdlovsk regions, Russia’s Republic of Bashkiria and in northern Kazakhstan.
The Russian army has joined the rescue operation. Radiation, chemical and biological protection units have been put on high alert. Since the explosion occurred several kilometers above the Earth, a large ground area must be thoroughly checked for radiation and other threats.
According to preliminary reports, the worst damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk was at a zinc factory, the walls and roof of which were partially destroyed by an impact wave. The city's Internet and mobile service were reportedly interrupted because of the damage inflicted near the factory.
|Police officers, environmentalists and EMERCOM experts at the site of a meteorite hit in the Chelyabinsk Region.|
Buildings were left without gas because facilities in the city had also been damaged, an Emergency Ministry spokesperson said, according to Russia 24 news channel.
The Emergency Ministry reported that 20,000 rescue workers are operating in the region. Three aircraft were deployed to survey the area and locate other possible impact locations.