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. And unfortunately, without food or water and the increasingly cold weather of winter, the death toll climbed steadily despite the rescue efforts. 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. The 1988 earthquake in Armenia is unique in some ways. 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). 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. 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. Rumbles from the quake were felt as far as Georgia and Azerbaijan. With its epicenter located in the town of Spitak, the northwestern region of Armenia shook for approximately 30 seconds. 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. 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. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, less than 20% of the lost housing had been rebuilt. 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. 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. Almost 90% of schools were also lost. 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. Aftershocks continued in the area for months, some as large as magnitude 5.0. ", All of this resulted in a massive disruption of the reconstruction plans. Additionally, the AmeriCares Foundation of New Canaan, Conn., sent a plane with 45 tons of medical supplies. 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. 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 … 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? It began when a reverse fault slipped, pushing one crustal block up relative to the adjacent block. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake shattered the north of Soviet Armenia. Armenia has had: (M1.5 or greater) 0 earthquakes in the past 24 hours 0 earthquakes in the past 7 days; 0 earthquakes in the past 30 days; 30 earthquakes in the past 365 days Gorbachev was asleep in a New York hotel when the quake hit. At 11:41 a.m., the earthquake damaged nearly a third of the small country and destroyed the town of Spitak near the epicenter. The effects of the earthquake were absolutely devastating. On 7 December 1988 a devastating earthquake in northern Armenia killed 25,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the Soviet republic. 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. “Despite the fact that all necessary measures are being taken … Mikhail Gorbachev believes that when … According to EVN Report, some of the delay was caused by "local bureaucracy wait[ing] for orders from the top." Roughly two-thirds of those who perished as a result of the earthquake were under the age of 18 since the quake struck during the day while most children were at school. 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. For trapped individuals, death rates were 81.4%. 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. In some of the cities, the loss of medical staff numbered between 70% to 80%. 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. Dozens more aftershocks occurred over the next several months. The damage extended across an area of over 50 miles in diameter, per BBC. In several cases, relief teams ended up stuck in Moscow because officials simply didn't know where to send them. But he had no thought of turning back. 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. Rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic of Armenia. The next day, on December 12th, a Yugoslav military plane crashed during its attempt to land, roughly 10 miles from the Yerevan airport. Soviet Armenia had three major quakes in the first fifty years of existence in … In 1996 the seismic zoning maps were redrawn for the entire country, and in 1994, and again in 2006, the building codes were strengthened. 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. Biggest quake: 2.9 quake 18 km south of Karanlukh, Gegharkunik, Armenia, 4 … 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. On 7 December 1988, Armenia was hit by a devastating earthquake. In 1989 an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. In addition to government aid, American Armand Hammer, a philanthropist who headed Occidental Petroleum Corp., flew to Armenia on Dec. 10 with a planeload of medical supplies and a $1 million donation. There was no sign of life. The United States and the world responded with a rush of humanitarian aid. According to The New York Times, most of the medical assistance that was sent for the earthquake, unfortunately, ended up being "of little value. Augliere is a freelance writer and photographer and a former editorial intern with EARTH. 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. Despite Cold War tensions, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was in the U.S. on the day of the quake visiting the United Nations and meeting with President Ronald Reagan, asked for humanitarian aid from the United States within days of the event. Soviet officials had claimed that restoration would be completed within two years. It was a message of peace.”. He learned of the quake via a telegram from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher describing the situation, conveying sympathy and offering aid. “In the Armenian Republic, thousands of people have died,” Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said at a news conference on Dec. 8, 1988. What really happened with that huge earthquake in Armenia? Following an appeal for assistance from … Even Pope John Paul II donated $100,000. 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. However, during this period, the skies were dangerously crowded with planes coming in to supply aid. “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. However, weather conditions made air evacuations of victims incredibly difficult, as did damage to railways and roads. Military troops were also dispatched by the Soviets, but since their training was in post-nuclear blast recovery efforts rather than earthquake relief, they were of little practical assistance. 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. 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. 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. It was followed four minutes later by a magnitude-5.9 aftershock; together these quakes caused extensive damage across a 400-square-kilometer area. Rescue efforts underway after earthquake strikes the Soviet republic of Armenia – ABC News The world united with an outpouring of assistance for relief efforts, which was desperately needed. The next day, it became obvious that this small event was a foreshock. As a result, there were few seismic hazard studies done in the region. And although the Red Cross implemented training for emergency-response techniques and first-aid skills in the region, residents in the region are dismissive of these measures, claiming that compared to another earthquake, "unemployment and poverty are more terrifying.". Abstract The study attempts to identify predictors of injuries among persons who were hospitalized following the Armenian earthquake of 7 December 1988. The city of Dvin was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 893 A.D., with casualties ranging from 30,000 to 70,000. After a brief photo-op with President-elect George Bush Sr. and President Ronald Reagan, Gorbachov cut his trip short and flew back to Moscow. However, as of 2020, thousands of people in the region still live in the temporary shelters provided in the aftermath of the earthquake. (December 7, 1988) Earthquakes have frequently hit Armenia throughout history. 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). The two tremors, only minutes … In 735 A.D., the Vayots Dzor Province was struck by an earthquake with aftershocks that lasted for 40 days. A strike-slip component in the rupture meant that the blocks also moved laterally past each other, rather than just up or down. 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. Gorbachevcut short his trip to fly back to Moscow. This disaster produced an unprecedented worldwide response to its traumatic consequences. With the collapse of the Soviet Union three years later, reconstruction became even more of an arduous task. Coordinates. The Soviet Union also sent "500 of its best doctors" to Yerevan, per the AP. The supplies included three kidney dialysis machines to help victims crushed by collapsing buildings who experienced kidney failure. With average winter temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, residents in Gyumri have to use small portable stoves to keep warm. Innumerable apartment buildings and industrial facilities collapsed or faced heavy damage. 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. Click here for all copyright requests. Then-Armenian Assembly Board Chairman Hirair Hovnanian leading a delegation bringing humanitarian relief to Armenia after the 1988 earthquake WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 30th Anniversary of the Spitak Earthquake, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) remembers the thousands of lives lost and villages destroyed after a massive earthquake, registering 6.9 on the Richter Scale, struck… Gorbachev was asleep in a New York hotel when the quake hit. 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. Labor crews that had come from other Soviet republics simply returned home "without fulfilling their commitments.". Countless churches and mosques collapsed, as did the 1st-century temple of Garni, though it was reconstructed with its original stones. 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. Mental health studies have shown that many of the earthquake survivors still live with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Many of these psychological effects that were initially identified continued to persist in this population some 23 years later, affecting not only their mental health and quality of life, but in many cases their physical health as well,” said Haroutune K. Armenian, an epidemiologist at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in an article in the school’s magazine in 2015. Since the Spitak earthquake, Armenia has made efforts to study and monitor the country’s seismic activity and improve emergency preparedness. When muscles get crushed, their cells start to leak and die, and their contents, including potassium and myoglobin, start to build up. In northern Armenia, the 600-kilometer-long Lesser Caucasus Mountains experience north-south compression as the two plates converge, giving rise to seismic active in recent times: a magnitude-5 earthquake hit Spitak in 1967, a magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck Leninakan (now Gyumri) in 1926, and a magnitude-5.3 event hit Kirovakan in 1911. Four minutes later, a magnitude 5.9 aftershock hit. 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. Here's what really happened with that huge earthquake in Armenia. 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. According to EVN Report, in Leninakan, 18,000 people were found in the ruins, "out of which 8,000 survived." © 2008-2020. economy of the region was also in shambles, Journal of Emergency and Internal Medicine, The Earthquake of Spitak, Armenia, and Its Socio-economic Implications, Nagorno-Karabakh's annexation referendum in 1988, past their expiry date and therefore unusable. 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. 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. Crush syndrome occurs as a result of toxins being released by crushed muscle tissue. PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenia is commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the devastating earthquake that hit the northwestern regions of the country on December 7, 1988… 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. Latest earthquakes in or near Armenia past 30 days. List of earthquakes in Armenia. Two earthquakes hit Armenia on December 7, 1988, killing 60,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. 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. Meanwhile, the first rescue teams didn't arrive until December 10, with chances of survival falling under 50% within six hours after an earthquake. In the town of Spitak, out of 36 hospitals, 24 were completely destroyed and 8 were partially destroyed. 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. 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. The country had no disaster contingency plans and rescue efforts were disorganized, which led to more deaths. In all, 111 countries, 7 international organizations, and 53 national chapters of the Red Cross provided help to Armenia. Hurricane Harvey's most destructive force. 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. In Armenia, the Arabian plate abuts against the Eurasian (Europe-Asia) plate. Surface ruptures caused by the main shock were observed up to 13 kilometers from the epicenter, with vertical displacement averaging 1 meter but reaching as much as 1.6 meters in places. The Spitak earthquake shattered the peace of Armenia 32 years ago. Thirty-two years ago, on December 7, 1988, one of the most terrible tragedies in the modern history of Armenia took place. “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. The U.S. — and the world — responded. On December 11th, Gorbachev visited Leninakan to witness the damage and talk to survivors. 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. The destruction happened so fast that people thought the city had been bombed. 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. 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." Throughout the 20th century, there were several earthquakes throughout Armenia, but none caused destruction comparable to the earthquake that struck Spitak in 1988. With the winter temperatures and domik windows made of cheap plastic instead of glass, sometimes people freeze to death during the night. For more of her work visit http://www.bethanyaugliere.com. 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. Over 80% of the five-story buildings and over 85% of the nine-story buildings collapsed as a result. Often, it took up to five hours to travel 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in Yerevan. However, 30 years later, thousands remain living in temporary houses or "domik" shanties created from old shipping containers. But Armenia is not historically devoid of seismic activity and has seen numerous devastating earthquakes. American Red Cross President Dick Schubert surveys the damage in Armenia following the earthquake in December. Witness speaks to Anahit Karapetian who was trapped for hours under the rubble of her school. 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. Two-thirds of the victims were under 18. When someone is trapped under tremendous weight from an earthquake or building collapse for upwards of four hours, they become susceptible to crush syndrome. According to Associated Press, the plane was carrying medical supplies and tragically all seven crew members died in the crash. Many consider the poor living conditions to be responsible for their health problems. Humanitarian organizations like the American and British Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières also invested their efforts, but according to Voluntary Action History Society, after an "initial media frenzy and relief operation," news about the earthquake's aftermath was soon absent from the headlines. Volunteers from international countries left because of a collapsed infrastructure and lack of construction materials. At least 259 aftershocks were recorded from December 22nd to January 1st, 1989. Few seismologists thought an earthquake as powerful as the one in 1988 was possible in the region, according to a 1989 review paper published in Nature. 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. 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. Today marks 32nd anniversary since 1988 earthquake in Armenia. 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.” The Armenian National Survey for Seismic Protection was founded in 1991, in addition to the Emergency Management Administration. According to the Los Angeles Times, 130 factories were destroyed and at least 170,000 people were out of work. 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. 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. Armenian and international foundations have been primarily responsible for building over 20,000 apartments since 1988. Hospitals and schools collapsed, and electrical and water supplies were cut off. 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. Today in Armenia, Dec. 7 is a day of remembrance: Armenian Earthquake Memorial Day. According to EVN Report, the plane was carrying soldiers and relief supplies, and the cause of the crash wasn't released. Rescue teams and medical supplies were immediately dispatched to Armenia from the United States, France, India, and Cuba. Over 200 people required dialysis, but even though there were at least 100 dialysis machines, there was "no organized international support structure with appropriate training and deployment strategies." 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. She is a graduate of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and holds a master’s degree in marine biology from Florida Atlantic University. In one elementary school alone, 400 children were killed. “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. What follows is a passage from his memoirs pertaining to that day. Environmental groups opposed reopening of the plant, since it poses an environmental threat. 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. 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. Rescue efforts continued until December 24th, after which the focus turned towards large scale clearing of the rubble. All rights reserved. Whenever the plates moving beneath Armenia … Dec. 8, 1988: Earthquake in Armenia. 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