The 1988 Earthquake
On December 7, 1988, at 11:41 A.M, a devastating earthquake, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale, struck northwestern Armenia. It lasted for forty seconds and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock and swarms of smaller quakes four minutes later. Four cities and fifty-eight villages were affected. The most affected city was Spitak, where over 5,000 buildings were destroyed or flattened. Thousands were injured, 500,000 were left homeless, and the earthquakes left 100,000 people dead. The direct economic loss of Armenia was estimated $14.2 billion, and 40 percent of its industrial capacity was destroyed, affecting the economic livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Armenians. After the impact of the earthquake, rescuers arrived from Yerevan and several Soviet republics; and, for the first time since 1923, the Soviet Union invited help from international relief organizations.
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