Natural disasters occur at all stages of development of human civilization. The earthquake in Armenia on 7 December 1988 is among the most destructive of them. As the disaster coincided with the beginning of the Karabakh war, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and to this day, many settlements located in the disaster area, has not healed the wounds of raging nature.

The December earthquake in Armenia

According to scientists, this small Transcaucasian country is in a very seismic area. What happened on 7 December (earthquake in Armenia), occurred earlier. This is evidenced by the ruins of ancient cities mentioned in the manuscripts in which the monks-witnesses in different ages left records about what happened when "the Lord was angry with people, and the earth has taken them under his feet."

In 1988, was still alive by those who remembered an earthquake in Armenia that took place on 22 October 1926. It affected the same region as Spitak, however, was less destructive. In addition, in the first decades of the 20th century, the population of the Northern regions of the Armenian Soviet was rather small, so the casualties were significantly less than during the disaster of 1988.

Seismic characteristics of the Spitak earthquake

The accident occurred on 7 December 1988 at 10 o'clock 41 minutes Moscow time. The epicenter was the village of Nalband (today Shirakamut), located near the town of Spitak, where the force of the shocks was 10 points on the MSK-64 scale. Tremors also were felt in the settlements:

  • Leninakan (Gyumri) - 9 points.
  • Kirovakan (Vanadzor) — 8-9.
  • Stepanavan — 9 points.
  • Yerevan is 6 points.

The main jolt lasted 35-45 seconds, followed by less intense aftershocks. According to eyewitnesses, a few days before earthquakes have been observed weak shocks. In addition, in artificial ponds, where they grow the fish it surfaced and remained on the surface, also very restlessly behaved Pets.

The situation in the USSR in 1988

The second half of the 80-ies for the entire Soviet Union was a difficult time. Declared Mikhail Gorbachev, democratization has led to the growth of national consciousness in most of the republics. At the same time, the economic problems inherited by the new leadership of the country from the era of stagnation, are the reason that a significant portion of citizens living in the national formations began to look for the root of all evils in the absence of independence. Especially intense situation has developed where, for centuries, the smoldering fire of ethnic conflicts, as borders were drawn without taking into account the views of the population.

The situation in the Republic at the time when the earthquake occurred in Armenia (1988)

In 1987, in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous region, where more than 76% of the population were Armenians, there was a movement for annexation to the Armenian USSR. Was declared the collection of signatures, which was attended by 80 thousand inhabitants of Karabakh. 20 February 1988, taking into consideration the opinion of the majority of the population, people's deputies of the NKAO adopted a decision to appeal to the leadership of the USSR to secede from the Azerbaijan SSR. In response, in late February 1988 in Sumgait and Baku began the brutal pogroms, which were killed and driven from their homes by the Armenians, who had no relation to the events in Karabakh. Since Moscow has not taken adequate measures to punish the perpetrators of the murder of citizens on a national basis, in Yerevan, began mass protests. To prevent their escalation to the Republic were introduced troops, who were obliged to take punitive actions. This measure has caused even more outrage among the population. At the same time, the presence of a large number of military help to organize the rescue of victims in the first hours after the earthquake occurred in Armenia in 1988.

This day today in great detail remember all of the people of Armenia, including for those who in 1988 was five or six years. Even in Yerevan, which is at the distance of 98 km from the epicenter, the aftershocks have caused panic and brought people to the streets. As for the disaster area, during the 35-40 seconds to entire neighborhoods and villages in ruins and buried beneath tens of thousands of people. In the first hours after the earthquake occurred in Armenia in 1988, in some localities there was no one to carry out rescue work. Fortunately, soon began to engage help from Yerevan and southern regions of the country. In addition to organized groups in the disaster area by private vehicles went thousands of citizens who were worried about their loved ones.

The earthquake in Armenia on 7 December 1988 caused the deaths of at least 25 000, 19 000 were disabled. In the first two days the situation was complicated by the fact that almost all the hospitals in the disaster area were destroyed, and most of the staff died or were under the rubble. Thus, the provision of qualified medical care was carried out mostly by mobile medical teams from neighbouring regions of Armenia. In addition, many people trapped under the rubble, died, as the seventh-eighth the number of rescuers lacked, and evacuation of victims was largely carried out by volunteers who have shoveled the rubble, literally with his bare hands.

The earthquake in Armenia is not indifferent to people in the most remote corners of the planet. Even after 27 years in the country with warmth and gratitude remember the rescuers and builders from dozens of regions of the RSFSR, the Ukrainian, the Byelorussian SSR and other parts of the Soviet Union. Many residents of Spitak, homeless, survived thanks to the Kazakh yurts. Soon began to arrive and aid from abroad. In particular, in the Republic were sent to a group of highly skilled rescuers from the countries of Europe. Great assistance was rendered and the Armenian Diaspora. In particular, world-famous chansonier Charles Aznavour personally came to their historical homeland, to attract world attention to the situation in the earthquake zone. Due to the role played by the then Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers N. Ryzhkov, who in 2008 the Republic of Armenia has made one of its National heroes (just a list of fifteen people).

The reasons for such a large number of victims

According to experts, the earthquake in Armenia (1988) can be considered unique. The fact that such a large number of victims in the tremors of such force was not to be. The explanation of this phenomenon established the Commission, carried out the investigation at the crash site. In particular, the experts found that the lion's share of the collapsed buildings was in the new districts of Spitak, Kirovakan, and Leninakan, which was built with gross violations of all building rules and without regard to the level of seismic hazard in the region. Thus, many of the victims of the earthquake in Armenia killed as a result of the negligence of the builders, including planners and foremen, who sold cement and other building materials, replacing them with regular sand.

Situation “in the disaster zone” today

Although the earthquake in Armenia occurred over 27 years ago, the area affected by the disaster, and today continues to be called in some measure to be a “disaster area”. The reasons are many. This protracted Karabakh war, which, despite the truce, weekly takes 1-2 lives of young soldiers, and the blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and the country's resource base, making its economy extremely vulnerable and unstable. However, we cannot say that over the years the government of Armenia has done nothing to restore destroyed towns and villages. In particular, there were new neighborhoods, where they moved people out of temporary shelters built immediately after the earthquake. And if the housing problem more or less solved, something quite different is the case with the restoration of industrial enterprises. The fact that prior to the earthquake in Armenia on 7 December 1988 in the Northern regions of this country was up to 40% of the production capacity of the Republic. Most of them were destroyed, and for various reasons, and not restored, so today in the area where there was an earthquake, there is extremely high unemployment.

Now you know how and when there was an earthquake in Armenia, and also what was the reason for so many victims.