Armenia was shocked by the devastating earthquake that struck the country at 11:41am local time on December 7, 1988; that is, 34 years ago on this day.
This strong underground shaking virtually destroyed Armenia’s northern portion, with a population of one million, in a matter of just thirty seconds.
At Spitak town, the epicenter of this tremor, the quake measured over magnitude 7. Shocks were recorded also in capital city Yerevan as well as in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
According to official figures, the disaster claimed around 25 thousand lives, about 19 thousand people became disabled, and close to 530 thousand others were left homeless.
Spitak was destroyed almost completely as a result of this earthquake. Also, 21 cities and townships plus 324 villages were ruined. Eighty percent of Armenia’s second largest city, Gyumri—Leninakan, at the time—was annihilated. There was considerable destruction also in the country’s third largest city, Vanadzor—Kirovakan, at the time.
Close to forty percent of Armenia’s industry was rendered inoperative due to this natural disaster.
But the international community lent a helping hand to the country, in an effort to heal the wounds of this great calamity. Unfortunately, the elimination of the consequences of this earthquake took the lives of two aircraft crews, as the latter of a Soviet and a Yugoslav plane bringing humanitarian aid were killed in crashes.
Thirty-four years after this earthquake, most of the people who had become homeless as a result of this natural disaster have been provided with housing. But there still are families in Shirak and Lori Provinces who continue subsisting in shacks and other temporary shelters.