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Armenia Pays Tribute to the Memory of the Victims of 1988 Spitak Earthquake

Twenty-nine years ago, on December 7, 1988 at 11:41 a devastating earthquake struck Armenia. Its epicenter was the village Shirakamut (Nalband) in Spitak. 10 point (of 12 point scale) earthquake was recorded. Experts estimate the energy released during the rupture of the earth to be equivalent to ten atomic bombs like the one that struck Hiroshima in 1945.

Powerful tremors devastated Northern Armenia within half a minute. 40 percent of the territory, where 1 million people were living was under ruins... The affected area included three thousand square kilometers. 21 cities and regions, 342 villages were affected in Armenia. 514, 000 people were left homeless. The earthquake completely destroyed the city of Spitak, as well as 80% of the second city of Armenia - Gyumri. The disaster also occurred in the third city of Armenia - Vanadzor.

According to official figures, more than 25 thousand people were killed. There had been a lot of victims especially in Gyumri (about 15-17 thousand), and in Spitak (4 thousand people).

120 thousand people were evacuated from the disaster zone (women, children and elderly people), of which 75 thousand were evacuated from Armenia - mainly to Soviet resorts.

The earthquake destroyed 17 percent of all housing in Armenia. 170 industrial enterprises stopped working, it had suffered major damage to agriculture. Direct losses amounted to 10 billion US dollars.

In overcoming the consequences of the catastrophe in Armenia more than 113 countries and 7 international organizations helped the country. Immediately after the earthquake a large Armenian diaspora got together and had their full support to compatriots. Two planes, rushing to help the victims in Armenia - from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union - collapsed because adverse weather conditions.

Different states have continued to support Armenia even during years after earthquake. However, the full recovery of the disaster area is still not complete. Today, 27 years after the disaster, hundreds of families are still living in huts...

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