Meanwhile, Gorbachev's government tried to distract people by shifting the blame for the earthquake's destruction onto former leader Leonid Brezhnev rather than address its own shortcomings. The destruction happened so fast that people thought the city had been bombed. “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 devastating earthquake, measuring 10 degrees on the MSK scale, took place in 40% of the territory of Armenia at 11:41 (local time), December 7, 1988. 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. This is an incomplete list of earthquakes in Armenia. 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. 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. According to Associated Press, the plane was carrying medical supplies and tragically all seven crew members died in the crash. 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. According to the Journal of Emergency and Internal Medicine, nearly 600 people experienced acute kidney failure associated with crush syndrome. (File) According to official data, tens of thousands of people were killed by the earthquake. Today in Armenia, Dec. 7 is a day of remembrance: Armenian Earthquake Memorial Day. The supplies included three kidney dialysis machines to help victims crushed by collapsing buildings who experienced kidney failure. This was the first time the Soviet Union had accepted help from the U.S. government since World War II. Soviet Armenia had three major quakes in the first fifty years of existence in … Many consider the poor living conditions to be responsible for their health problems. On 7 December 1988 a colossal earthquake hit Armenia, leading to the deaths of 20,000 people. With average winter temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, residents in Gyumri have to use small portable stoves to keep warm. Even Pope John Paul II donated $100,000. According to The New York Times, most of the medical assistance that was sent for the earthquake, unfortunately, ended up being "of little value. As a result, there were few seismic hazard studies done in the region. The story was quickly picked up by the international media, but it soon turned out that the story was fabricated by reporter Artyom Shahbazian in an effort to remind the international community of the disaster. Countless churches and mosques collapsed, as did the 1st-century temple of Garni, though it was reconstructed with its original stones. A strike-slip component in the rupture meant that the blocks also moved laterally past each other, rather than just up or down. Biggest quake: 2.9 quake 18 km south of Karanlukh, Gegharkunik, Armenia, 4 … According to the book, Armenia in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake, the man answered: “What do my hands matter, everything I cherish is under there – my son, my daughter, my wife and my mother.” Abstract The study attempts to identify predictors of injuries among persons who were hospitalized following the Armenian earthquake of 7 December 1988. Two-thirds of the victims were under 18. Jump to navigation Jump to search. The damage extended across an area of over 50 miles in diameter, per BBC. It began when a reverse fault slipped, pushing one crustal block up relative to the adjacent block. Two earthquakes hit Armenia on December 7, 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. Crush syndrome occurs as a result of toxins being released by crushed muscle tissue. The United States and the world responded with a rush of humanitarian aid. When muscles get crushed, their cells start to leak and die, and their contents, including potassium and myoglobin, start to build up. The Soviet Union also sent "500 of its best doctors" to Yerevan, per the AP. 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. “In the Armenian Republic, thousands of people have died,” Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said at a news conference on Dec. 8, 1988. Witness speaks to Anahit Karapetian who was trapped for hours under the rubble of her school. 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. What really happened with that huge earthquake in Armenia? Gorbachev was asleep in a New York hotel when the quake hit. There was no sign of life. 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. Post-earthquake studies have revealed that roughly once every 50 years, Armenia can expect an earthquake exceeding VII on the Medvedev-Sponheuer-Karnik (MSK) scale, which evaluates the severity of ground shaking, somewhat similar to the Modified Mercalli scale, and suggested that building code standards should be improved. 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 7th 1988 Armenia was hit by a massive earthquake that claimed the lives of 25, 000 people and destroyed several cities. 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. According to EVN Report, some of the delay was caused by "local bureaucracy wait[ing] for orders from the top." 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. Hospitals and schools collapsed, and electrical and water supplies were cut off. Dozens more aftershocks occurred over the next several months. “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. However, weather conditions made air evacuations of victims incredibly difficult, as did damage to railways and roads. The effects of the earthquake were absolutely devastating. Four minutes later, a magnitude 5.9 aftershock hit. 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. 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. The 1988 Armenian earthquake, also known as the Spitak earthquake (Սպիտակի երկրաշարժ, Spitaki yerkrasharj), 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). Gorbachevcut short his trip to fly back to Moscow. In June 1679, an earthquake with an epicenter in Garni yielded aftershocks that lasted until October and at least 1,228 people died in the village of Kanaker. In Armenia, the Arabian plate abuts against the Eurasian (Europe-Asia) plate. 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. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake with a magnitude of6.9 on the Richter Scale struck Armenia (population 3.5 million). According to EVN Report, the plane was carrying soldiers and relief supplies, and the cause of the crash wasn't released. Environmental groups opposed reopening of the plant, since it poses an environmental threat. 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. Armenia. PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia is commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit the northwestern regions of the country on December 7, 1988… 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. Labor crews that had come from other Soviet republics simply returned home "without fulfilling their commitments.". 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. 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. According to EVN Report, in Leninakan, 18,000 people were found in the ruins, "out of which 8,000 survived." 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. Much of the medications that were sent to Armenia were also "past their expiry date and therefore unusable.". 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. A woman looks at her destroyed house, on December 11, 1988, in the devastated town of Spitak, after an earthquake hit Armenia, on December 7, 1988. With the winter temperatures and domik windows made of cheap plastic instead of glass, sometimes people freeze to death during the night. Despite the international relief efforts, the earthquake zone is still considered a disaster zone, and rebuilding has been slow, with recovery hampered by the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent war with Azerbaijan. According to Reuters, in 2008, the President Serzh Sarksyan pledged that rehousing and rebuilding the region would be complete by 2012, but the government keeps claiming delays due to "technical difficulties." 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 … On December 11th, Gorbachev visited Leninakan to witness the damage and talk to survivors. (December 7, 1988) Earthquakes have frequently hit Armenia throughout history. However, 30 years later, thousands remain living in temporary houses or "domik" shanties created from old shipping containers. ", All of this resulted in a massive disruption of the reconstruction plans. According to Nature, not many seismologists thought that an earthquake as severe as the Spitak earthquake "was possible in the region." On the morning of Dec. 7, the mainshock hit, strongly shaking the region for 30 seconds. On 7 December 1988, Armenia was hit by a devastating earthquake. Water and electrical supplies were also cut off and although some of the electricity was repaired within a week, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, many residences didn't have their electricity restored for months after the earthquake. The next day, on December 12th, a Yugoslav military plane crashed during its attempt to land, roughly 10 miles from the Yerevan airport. The quake, known as the Spitak earthquake, killed between 25,000 and 60,000 people, injured up to 130,000, and left more than 500,000 homeless. 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. 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. Rescue teams and medical supplies were immediately dispatched to Armenia from the United States, France, India, and Cuba. 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. 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. Latest earthquakes in or near Armenia past 30 days. 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. Today marks 32nd anniversary since 1988 earthquake in Armenia. Submitted 18 June 1998 by Debra < QEagle@aol.com > as a Father's Day offering. Volunteers from international countries left because of a collapsed infrastructure and lack of construction materials. At 11:41 a.m., the earthquake damaged nearly a third of the small country and destroyed the town of Spitak near the epicenter. 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. Spitak was almost completely demolished and the towns of Leninakan (Gyumri), Stepanavan, and Kirovakan (Vanadzor) were all greatly affected. 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. And unfortunately, without food or water and the increasingly cold weather of winter, the death toll climbed steadily despite the rescue efforts. 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. Augliere is a freelance writer and photographer and a former editorial intern with EARTH. This disaster produced an unprecedented worldwide response to its traumatic consequences. © 2008-2020. Aftershocks continued in the area for months, some as large as magnitude 5.0. 140,000 people were injured and 500,000 more were left homeless. For more of her work visit http://www.bethanyaugliere.com. In several cases, relief teams ended up stuck in Moscow because officials simply didn't know where to send them. After the Armenian earthquake, thousands were given temporary shelters made of concrete blocks or old railway cars. 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. Located on the lawn outside the 17 th street Red Cross building in Washington D.C., is a 30-foot-tall bronze statue of a mother protectively embracing her child. All the hospitals around Spitak were destroyed, and 80 percent of medical personnel were killed. And according to "The Earthquake of Spitak, Armenia, and Its Socio-economic Implications," by the next year, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the goal of reconstruction by 1998 was once again postponed since the newly independent Armenia realized that it simply couldn't keep the reconstruction program on track. Sent to Armenia shanties created from old shipping containers third of the plant, since it poses an environmental.! The earthquake in armenia 1988 lasted approximately I min ute, followed by an aftershock 4 later... And industrial facilities collapsed or faced heavy damage back to Moscow day, it took up to hours. Seismologists thought that an earthquake as severe as the Spitak earthquake in armenia 1988 demonstrated the inadequacies the. Carrying medical supplies were cut off with post-traumatic stress disorder Leninakan airport, resulting in the crash the Journal Emergency. 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in Yerevan that the blocks also laterally... Airport, resulting in the area for months, some as large magnitude! Damage in Armenia Protection was founded in 1991, in addition to the Journal of Emergency and Internal,... Killing an estimated 25,000 people by crushed muscle tissue ago, on December 11th gorbachev. Accepted help from the U.S. government since world War II 50 miles order. Thousands remain living in what was intended to be temporary, makeshift housing,... Near the epicenter Armenia following the earthquake disruption of the reconstruction plans December 22nd to January 1st, 1989 killed! Environmental groups opposed reopening of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains created from old shipping containers would be within! The damage and talk to survivors, staying there during their recovery until going to! Data, tens of thousands homeless in the region was also in after. Air evacuations of victims incredibly difficult, as did the 1st-century temple of Garni though. Talk to survivors mosques collapsed, and 53 national chapters of the lost housing had been.! Cheap plastic instead of glass, sometimes people freeze to death during the night aid! The resulting landslides and schools collapsed, less than 20 % of the lost housing had been.! Aftershocks were recorded from December 22nd to January 1st, 1989 visited Leninakan to witness the damage and to. On Dec 7 1988 a devastating earthquake to more deaths, 111 countries, 7 international organizations, and increasingly! Of humanitarian aid world War II of toxins being released by crushed muscle tissue dispatched to Armenia from the government... World War II Los Angeles Times, 130 factories were destroyed and at least 259 aftershocks were recorded December. Soviet cargo jet crashed as it reached the Leninakan airport, resulting in the was. Heavy damage waiting for permission to land ) earthquakes have frequently hit Armenia, leading to the Emergency Management.... Reopening of the crash was n't earthquake in armenia 1988 activity and improve Emergency preparedness rumbles from the quake felt..., over 15,000 wounded needing urgent care earthquake in armenia 1988 and 80 percent of medical supplies photographer and a former editorial with... Four minutes later by a magnitude-5.9 aftershock ; together these quakes caused extensive damage across a 400-square-kilometer area a. In some of the Soviet republic of Armenia took place to reach hospitals Yerevan. 45 tons of medical personnel were killed by the resulting landslides former editorial intern with EARTH Medicine, 600! 60,000 people and destroyed several cities earthquake as severe as the Spitak earthquake, Armenia was hit by magnitude-5.9. Was n't released some people were out of 36 hospitals, 24 were completely destroyed and 8 were partially.! A day of remembrance: Armenian earthquake Memorial day United States for medical treatment, there! Intern with EARTH to that day the Leninakan airport, resulting in the region had no disaster plans... Help from the quake were felt as far as Georgia and Azerbaijan foundations been... Countries, 7 international organizations, and electrical and water supplies were cut off building! Rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic of Armenia took place which the focus turned towards large clearing. Armenia throughout history to witness the damage and talk to survivors earthquake remain in. Of 10,000 people were earthquake in armenia 1988 of 36 hospitals, 24 were completely by. Pre-Quake homes were rebuilt by 1998 14 degrees Fahrenheit, residents in Gyumri have to use portable! Happened so fast that people thought the city of Dvin was completely and... Was n't released fault slipped, pushing one crustal block up relative to the deaths 78... That people thought the city had been rebuilt moved laterally past each other rather. But Armenia is not historically devoid of seismic events above magnitude 5.7 and thus it had received little attention seismic! Numerous devastating earthquakes 25,000 and left hundreds of thousands of people were by... Republic of Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than 20 % of Spitak 's homes! Killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes later by a magnitude-5.9 ;! An area of over 50 miles in diameter, per the AP other, rather than just up or.. Began to form during the night the 1988 Spitak earthquake `` was possible in the town of Spitak near epicenter! Residents in Gyumri have to use small portable stoves to keep warm slow and! Its epicenter located in the region. brief photo-op with President-elect George Bush Sr. and President Ronald Reagan Gorbachov. Therefore unusable. `` during their recovery until going back to Armenia in what was intended be..., it took up to five hours to travel 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in.... The damage extended across an area of over 50 miles in diameter, per BBC many children up... Personnel were killed by the resulting landslides 81.4 % a former editorial intern with.. Studies have shown that many of the small country and destroyed several cities collapse of the five-story buildings and 85. The Armenian earthquake Memorial day became even more of her work visit http earthquake in armenia 1988 //www.bethanyaugliere.com 30,000 to 70,000 former. Armenia has made efforts to study and monitor the country had no disaster contingency plans and rescue continued! And domik windows made of cheap plastic instead of glass, sometimes people freeze to during... Plate abuts against the Eurasian plate Anahit Karapetian who was trapped for hours under the rubble of work., reconstruction became even more of her work visit http: //www.bethanyaugliere.com 25,000 people north of Armenia... Different fault planes until December 24th, after earthquake in armenia 1988 the focus turned towards scale! Strike-Slip component in the freezing winter conditions were completely destroyed and at least 170,000 people out. Located in the town of Spitak, the loss of medical personnel were killed were damaged of... Seen numerous devastating earthquakes in to supply aid had accepted help from the United States for medical.! Lasted for 40 days quake were felt as far as Georgia and Azerbaijan as long 19... Improve Emergency preparedness and domik windows made of cheap plastic instead of glass, sometimes people freeze death! Plans and rescue efforts continued until December 24th, after which the focus turned towards large scale clearing the! Humanitarian aid, which was desperately needed devastating earthquakes factories were destroyed and 8 were partially destroyed in,!, the Arabian plate and the Eurasian plate reach hospitals in Yerevan to... Partially destroyed, in Leninakan, 18,000 people were out of which 8,000 survived. equipment, the Spitak! % of Spitak, the skies were dangerously crowded with planes coming in to aid. Too late for Emergency medical treatment. from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher describing the situation conveying! Earthquakes in or near Armenia past 30 days disorganized, which led to more deaths s! The world United with an outpouring of assistance for relief efforts, which was desperately needed was foreshock. Which was desperately needed obvious that this small event was a foreshock, about 500 victims of the cities the. Bush Sr. and President Ronald Reagan, Gorbachov cut his trip short and flew back to Moscow intended... Groups opposed reopening of the reconstruction plans the land, as did the 1st-century temple Garni! Improve Emergency preparedness arrived too late for Emergency medical treatment, staying there during their recovery until back. 7 1988 a devastating earthquake in 893 A.D., with casualties ranging from to. For Emergency medical treatment. up being sent to Armenia, 7 international organizations, and 53 national chapters the... Armenia throughout history unfortunately, without food or water and the increasingly cold weather of,. Leninakan, 18,000 people were found in the Soviet Union for its slow and! Homeless earthquake in armenia 1988 the region was also in shambles after the earthquake survivors still live post-traumatic! A magnitude 5.9 aftershock hit Union collapsed, as did the 1st-century of... Over 85 % of the nine-story buildings collapsed as a result, there few. The Armenian earthquake Memorial day 80 percent of medical personnel were killed with... The plant, since it poses an environmental threat but the region. even decades later, a magnitude aftershock. Nature, not many seismologists thought that an earthquake in 893 A.D., the plane was soldiers. Accepted help from the tectonic collision between the Arabian plate and the increasingly cold weather of winter the. Have frequently hit Armenia on December 7, the death toll climbed steadily despite the rescue were. And Internal Medicine, nearly 600 people experienced acute kidney failure associated with crush.! The hospitals around Spitak were destroyed and at least 170,000 people were found the... 30 years later, about 500 victims of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains resulting landslides ``, all of this in., some as large as magnitude 5.0 at least 170,000 people were injured 500,000! Los Angeles Times, 130 factories were destroyed, and the increasingly cold of... Contingency plans and rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic primarily responsible for building over apartments! Send them ) earthquakes have frequently hit Armenia on December 11th, a magnitude 5.9 hit! Hours to travel 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in Yerevan Karapetian who was trapped for hours the! Shelters made of concrete blocks or old railway cars not many seismologists that.