Submitted 18 June 1998 by Debra < QEagle@aol.com > as a Father's Day offering. Although some people were rescued as long as 19 days after the earthquake, thousands succumbed to hypothermia in the freezing winter conditions. In some of the cities, the loss of medical staff numbered between 70% to 80%. It was followed four minutes later by a magnitude-5.9 aftershock; together these quakes caused extensive damage across a 400-square-kilometer area. 140,000 people were injured and 500,000 more were left homeless. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake with a magnitude of6.9 on the Richter Scale struck Armenia (population 3.5 million). Armenia is located on the Alpine-Himalayan belt, or the Alpide belt, which is a seismic belt that runs from the Alps to the Himalayas, formed out of the tectonic collision between the Eurasian Plate and the Arabian Plate, per Earth Magazine. According to "The Earthquake of Spitak, Armenia, and Its Socio-economic Implications" by Johanna Schott and Talin Kalatas, the insufficient design of the buildings meant that almost all medical care stations and hospitals suffered severe damage. On December 11th, a Soviet cargo jet crashed as it reached the Leninakan airport, resulting in the deaths of 78 people. The 1988 earthquake in Armenia is unique in some ways. On the morning of December 7th, it became clear that the previous quakes were merely foreshocks to the main quake, which hit at 11:41 AM local time, measuring a magnitude of 6.8-7.0. President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev was in New York City when he received a telegram from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher describing what had happened and offering sympathy and aid. Augliere is a freelance writer and photographer and a former editorial intern with EARTH. ", All of this resulted in a massive disruption of the reconstruction plans. On December 7th 1988 Armenia was hit by a massive earthquake that claimed the lives of 25, 000 people and destroyed several cities. Hurricane Harvey's most destructive force. However, according to Earth Magazine, these quakes didn't receive much attention because few thought that there was a serious seismic risk in the region. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake shattered the north of Soviet Armenia. The country had no disaster contingency plans and rescue efforts were disorganized, which led to more deaths. But the region had no historic record of seismic events above magnitude 5.7 and thus it had received little attention in seismic hazard studies. For more of her work visit http://www.bethanyaugliere.com. mewhat similar to the Modified Mercalli scale, and, After hurricanes, U.S. beach homes are rebuilt bigger, Geoethics in the Field: Leading by Example, Inside the inferno: How large firenadoes form, Wind or water? On Dec 7 1988 a devastating earthquake hit the Soviet republic of Armenia, killing around 25,000 people. The economy of the region was also in shambles after the earthquake. Although the Soviet Union had said that reconstruction should take roughly two years, by 1989, it was clear that reconstruction was going to take at least nine more years. Following an appeal for assistance from … Despite tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States as a result of the Cold War, according to The Washington Post, in response to the earthquake, the Soviet Union asked for and received aid from the United States. In many places, there weren't enough cranes with which to clear the rubble, leaving people to "work with bare hands.". Two-thirds of the victims were under 18. “Crush syndrome,” which occurs when damaged tissues release toxins and alter blood chemistry leading to renal failure, is a common cause of death in large earthquakes. When someone is trapped under tremendous weight from an earthquake or building collapse for upwards of four hours, they become susceptible to crush syndrome. In the town of Spitak, out of 36 hospitals, 24 were completely destroyed and 8 were partially destroyed. There was no sign of life. Over 80% of the five-story buildings and over 85% of the nine-story buildings collapsed as a result. The world united with an outpouring of assistance for relief efforts, which was desperately needed. However, as of 2020, thousands of people in the region still live in the temporary shelters provided in the aftermath of the earthquake. After the Armenian earthquake, thousands were given temporary shelters made of concrete blocks or old railway cars. Mental health studies have shown that many of the earthquake survivors still live with post-traumatic stress disorder. Thirty years ago this month, on Dec. 7, 1988, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook the northern region of the then-Soviet republic of Armenia. © 2008-2020. The town of Spitak was demolished; the nearby towns of Kirovakan and Leninakan also experienced heavy destruction, while rumbles were felt in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Countless churches and mosques collapsed, as did the 1st-century temple of Garni, though it was reconstructed with its original stones. In one small town, just after the earthquake, a father rushed to his son's school only to find that the school had been flattened. Several planes would be circling simultaneously, waiting for permission to land. But he had no thought of turning back. In the final month of 1988, Armenia was struck by an earthquake that absolutely devastated the northern region of the country and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, throwing many into housing insecurity that's lasted over 30 years. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake devastated the northwestern section of Armenia, killing an estimated 25,000 people. Unfortunately, despite the outpouring of humanitarian aid that the Soviet Union received, Soviet authorities were poorly organized, and as a result, foreign rescue and relief efforts were delayed in their attempts to get to injured people. When muscles get crushed, their cells start to leak and die, and their contents, including potassium and myoglobin, start to build up. The supplies included three kidney dialysis machines to help victims crushed by collapsing buildings who experienced kidney failure. The next day, on December 12th, a Yugoslav military plane crashed during its attempt to land, roughly 10 miles from the Yerevan airport. While Western media portrayed the Soviet relief operation as inadequate and reflective of the "wider failures of the Soviet system," international relief efforts can be considered to have been equally inadequate due to the non-compatible medical equipment and out-of-date medications supplied. On Dec. 10, three days after the quake, three cargo planes carrying U.S. medical supplies and rescue teams, including dogs trained to sniff out survivors buried in the rubble, left Washington, D.C., and a military base in Italy, headed for the Armenian capital of Yerevan, about 100 kilometers from Spitak. And although there are over 400 homeless people on the waiting list for housing, there are over 3,000 people who aren't even on the waiting list. Meanwhile, the first rescue teams didn't arrive until December 10, with chances of survival falling under 50% within six hours after an earthquake. According to EVN Report, some of the delay was caused by "local bureaucracy wait[ing] for orders from the top." This is an incomplete list of earthquakes in Armenia. Latest earthquakes in or near Armenia past 30 days. Since electricity and lights were unavailable during the first night, rescue efforts had to be put on hold during the evening and night until there was light. But Armenia is not historically devoid of seismic activity and has seen numerous devastating earthquakes. It was the strongest recorded earthquake in the Caucasus region in 1,000 years, the most destructive quake in the world since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China, and one of the most lethal of the 20th century. Dozens more aftershocks occurred over the next several months. Soviet officials had claimed that restoration would be completed within two years. A strike-slip component in the rupture meant that the blocks also moved laterally past each other, rather than just up or down. However, according to EVN Report, at the time Gorbachev had a turbulent relationship with the Armenian people due to the Soviet Union's refusal to honor Nagorno-Karabakh's annexation referendum in 1988. Dec. 8, 1988: Earthquake in Armenia. All the hospitals around Spitak were destroyed, and 80 percent of medical personnel were killed. Since most of the buildings had high seismic vulnerability, the newspaper Pravda attributed the scale of the destruction to the poor quality standards of buildings made during Brezhnev's term, according to EVN Report. The Soviet Union also sent "500 of its best doctors" to Yerevan, per the AP. “Over the last two weeks, the hearts of the American people have gone out to the people of Armenia as they grappled with the earthquake disaster and its aftermath,” said President Reagan in a Dec. 22 speech in the White House. “Despite the fact that all necessary measures are being taken … Mikhail Gorbachev believes that when a people is suffering, he has to be there and he himself has to lead the efforts.” The quake came on the heels of Gorbachev’s historic speech at the United Nations in which he called for an end to the Cold War and said that Soviet Troops would withdraw from Eastern Europe. The Spitak earthquake shattered the peace of Armenia 32 years ago. STEPANAKERT, DECEMBER 7, ARTSAKHPRESS: At 11:41 on that day, the northern regions of the Armenian SSR were shocked by a devastating earthquake, which was named after the epicenter as the … All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of any of the contents of this service without the expressed written permission of the American Geosciences Institute is expressly prohibited. Rumbles from the quake were felt as far as Georgia and Azerbaijan. “In the Armenian Republic, thousands of people have died,” Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said at a news conference on Dec. 8, 1988. And with so many of the roads destroyed and blocked by rubble, by the time relief crews finally arrived, they were "too late to save many lives," per VAHS. Red Cross flights brought materials from Eastern and Western Europe, and Britain sent firemen and rescue experts as well as two planes with more than 50 tons of food and medical supplies. “On the evening of the 7th, the “Time” program announced a huge earthquake in Armenia… For trapped individuals, death rates were 81.4%. On December 6th, 1988, the northern region of Armenia was hit by a magnitude 3.0 earthquake at 3:27 in the afternoon followed by a larger aftershock that measured 5.8 almost five minutes afterward. Although there was a rumor that orphaned children were being given away to non-Armenian families, the rumor was never substantiated and likely came about due to misinformation and miscommunication. Click here for all copyright requests. One of several reasons why so many buildings suffered so much damage is that the Soviet Union "had only one building code for the entire territory," regardless of whether or not the building was in a coastal or earthquake region. Abstract The study attempts to identify predictors of injuries among persons who were hospitalized following the Armenian earthquake of 7 December 1988. Gorbachevcut short his trip to fly back to Moscow. The rupture occurred between 5 and 7 kilometers deep within the Pambak-Sevan thrust and fold zone at the base of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains. An Armenian man who was found digging with his fingers and hands was told by a doctor that if he continued to dig that way, he risked amputation. According to Nature, not many seismologists thought that an earthquake as severe as the Spitak earthquake "was possible in the region." It was a message of peace.”. Labor crews that had come from other Soviet republics simply returned home "without fulfilling their commitments.". Despite international efforts towards rebuilding homes, only about 20% of Spitak's pre-quake homes were rebuilt by 1998. It left more than 25,000 people dead, over 15,000 wounded needing urgent care, and more than half a million homeless. After the weight has been lifted and blood flow is restored, these cell contents start to flow through the body and can lead to cardiac and renal failure. Volunteers from international countries left because of a collapsed infrastructure and lack of construction materials. In an attempt to offset a six-year-old energy crisis caused by blockades by Azerbaijan and Turkey, the Armenian government in mid-1995 reactivated a nuclear power plant at Metsamor, close since 1988. after the catastrophic earthquake in northern Armenia. According to The New York Times, most of the medical assistance that was sent for the earthquake, unfortunately, ended up being "of little value. Spitak was almost completely demolished and the towns of Leninakan (Gyumri), Stepanavan, and Kirovakan (Vanadzor) were all greatly affected. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people are estimated to have died, upwards of 130,000 were injured, and half a million people were rendered homeless. Areas to the southwest of Armenia, such as the northeastern Mediterranean coast, Turkey and Iran, are quite seismically active: More than four quakes with magnitudes greater than six have struck Turkey in the 20th century alone. A total of 189 such individuals were identified through neighbourhood polyclinics in the city of Leninakan and 159 noninjured controls were selected from the same neighbourhoods. “In the Armenian Republic, thousands of people have died,” Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said at a news conference on Dec. 8, 1988. And ten years after the earthquake, almost $8 million in post-quake funds remained frozen in a Moscow bank after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 735 A.D., the Vayots Dzor Province was struck by an earthquake with aftershocks that lasted for 40 days. It began when a reverse fault slipped, pushing one crustal block up relative to the adjacent block. The effects of the earthquake were absolutely devastating. At 11:41 a.m., the earthquake damaged nearly a third of the small country and destroyed the town of Spitak near the epicenter. Four minutes later, a magnitude 5.9 aftershock hit. As a result, there were few seismic hazard studies done in the region. According to Radio Free Europe, a story published in January 1989 about six men being found 35 days after the earthquake, surviving on canned pickles and fruits, ended up being too good to be true. On December 11th, Gorbachev visited Leninakan to witness the damage and talk to survivors. Today marks 32nd anniversary since 1988 earthquake in Armenia. “Those of you who answered the appeal for help, who have assisted in the relief effort, and those who flew to the Soviet Union and sifted through the rubble, searching for life against all odds, carried with you a message from America. According to "The 1988 Earthquake in Soviet Armenia," upwards of 30% of people received "no on-site medical assistance" and many were taken to hospitals in Soviet Georgia or unaffected parts of Armenia. On Dec. 6, 1988, a magnitude-3 earthquake hit northern Armenia, though it received little attention because of the perceived lack of serious seismic risk in the area. The next day, it became obvious that this small event was a foreshock. With average winter temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, residents in Gyumri have to use small portable stoves to keep warm. On the morning of Dec. 7, the mainshock hit, strongly shaking the region for 30 seconds. Much of the medications that were sent to Armenia were also "past their expiry date and therefore unusable.". Northern Armenia comprises a mountainous plateau interspersed with populated river valleys and is home to a portion of the Caucasus Mountains, which sit along an active seismic belt spanning from the Alps in southern Europe to the Himalayas in Asia. On 7 December 1988 a colossal earthquake hit Armenia, leading to the deaths of 20,000 people. While most electrical substations were repaired within a week, electricity was not restored to many residences for months, according to a 1991 report by engineers for the Electric Power Research Institute. What follows is a passage from his memoirs pertaining to that day. Two earthquakes hit Armenia on December 7, 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. Hospitals and schools collapsed, and electrical and water supplies were cut off. Often, it took up to five hours to travel 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in Yerevan. It arrived too late for emergency medical treatment." The destruction happened so fast that people thought the city had been bombed. For some, like Ara Tadevossian and his mother, there's a belief that it might have been tragically fortunate not to be rescued in the first few days, simply because everything had been destroyed and it might not have been possible to airlift people to safety earlier. Updated 13 Dec 2020 18:56 GMT - There were 3 quakes of magnitude 2.0+ in or near Armenia during the past 30 days, the largest largest being a 2.9 event. Biggest quake: 2.9 quake 18 km south of Karanlukh, Gegharkunik, Armenia, 4 … Armenia is a small country about the size of Maryland that borders Turkey to the west, Iran to the south, Azerbaijan to the east and Georgia to the north. According to the Los Angeles Times, 130 factories were destroyed and at least 170,000 people were out of work. The two tremors, only minutes … The 1988 Armenian earthquake, also known as the Spitak earthquake (Սպիտակի երկրաշարժ Spitaki yerkrašarž), occurred on December 7 at 11:41 local time with a surface wave magnitude of 6.8 and a maximum MSK intensity of X (Devastating). This mountain system began to form during the Late Triassic, largely from the tectonic collision between the Arabian Plate and the Eurasian Plate. Officials think that it could take 10-15 more years to get rid of all the temporary shelters, but there still isn't a plan to ensure housing security for all of the displacement caused by the 1988 earthquake in Armenia and its aftermath. Armenian and international foundations have been primarily responsible for building over 20,000 apartments since 1988. With its epicenter located in the town of Spitak, the northwestern region of Armenia shook for approximately 30 seconds. Spitak (Armenian: Սպիտակ), is a town and urban municipal community in the northern Lori Province of Armenia.It is 96 km (60 mi) north of the capital, Yerevan, and 22 km (14 mi) west of the provincial centre, Vanadzor.Spitak was entirely destroyed during the devastating 1988 earthquake, and it was rebuilt in a slightly different location. Whenever the plates moving beneath Armenia … Along with the collapse of the Trans-Caucasus electrical grid, Armenia was left with little-to-no heat and electricity for 1-2 hours a day, plunging Armenia into the "dark and cold years. And with inadequate local dialysis infrastructure, "with no preconceived regional or international organizations for renal rescue analysis," by the time it was possible to treat people with crush syndrome, the severe cases had already passed away while the mild and moderate ones had already recovered. Seismic analysis revealed a complex seismic waveform pattern “significantly more complex than those normally seen for an event of this size,” according to a 1993 study in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The complex quake involved two or more ruptures on different fault planes. Hundreds of local medical workers were also injured and killed, and more than "500 medical institutions" were destroyed, making it extremely difficult to treat those who were injured and get first aid to the site on time. This was the first time the Soviet Union had accepted help from the U.S. government since World War II. Aftershocks continued in the area for months, some as large as magnitude 5.0. Environmental groups opposed reopening of the plant, since it poses an environmental threat. Compared to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti which created roughly $7.8 billion in damages, the 1988 Spitak earthquake created $16.2 billion in damages. By Jolyon Naegele Prague, 17 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Nearly ten years ago, on December 7, 1988, a massive earthquake rocked northwestern Armenia, killing some 50,000 inhabitants. American Red Cross President Dick Schubert surveys the damage in Armenia following the earthquake in December. Relief didn’t just come from the U.S. India sent a 42-member medical team, France sent 200 rescue workers and doctors, Cuba sent blood donations and Pope John Paul II contributed $100,000. Almost 90% of schools were also lost. After the Soviet Union fell, Azerbaijan put a fuel embargo on Armenia in response to the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, blocking a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan. (File) According to official data, tens of thousands of people were killed by the earthquake. Rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic of Armenia. Rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic of Armenia – ABC News At least 259 aftershocks were recorded from December 22nd to January 1st, 1989. Rescue teams and medical supplies were immediately dispatched to Armenia from the United States, France, India, and Cuba. According to EVN Report, in Leninakan, 18,000 people were found in the ruins, "out of which 8,000 survived." On the day of the quake, two men arrive in their home town only to be caught up in the terrible events and must work together to rescue as … In 1988 he was in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, just as the news that an earthquake had leveled Armenia’s Yerevan hit. In several cases, relief teams ended up stuck in Moscow because officials simply didn't know where to send them. On 7 December 1988, Armenia was hit by a devastating earthquake. PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia is commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit the northwestern regions of the country on December 7, 1988… He learned of the quake via a telegram from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher describing the situation, conveying sympathy and offering aid. December 1988. The Armenian National Survey for Seismic Protection was founded in 1991, in addition to the Emergency Management Administration. However, according to Earth Magazine, these quakes didn't receive much attention because few thought that there was a serious seismic risk in the region. The city of Dvin was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 893 A.D., with casualties ranging from 30,000 to 70,000. According to EVN Report, the plane was carrying soldiers and relief supplies, and the cause of the crash wasn't released. On 7 December 1988 a devastating earthquake in northern Armenia killed 25,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the Soviet republic. 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