Armenia was shocked by the devastating earthquake that struck Spitak city on December 7, 1988, at 11:41am local time, that is, 31 years ago on this day.
In a matter of thirty seconds, the strong underground shakings destroyed Armenia’s northern portion, with a population of one million. At Spitak, which was the epicenter of the tremor, the quake measured magnitude 10 on a 12-magnitude scale. Shocks were recorded in capital city Yerevan and in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, too.
According to official figures, the disaster claimed 25,000 lives, 19,000 people became disabled, and 530,000 residents were left homeless.
As a result of the earthquake, Spitak was destroyed virtually completely. Also, 21 cities and townships and 324 villages were ruined. Eighty percent of the country’s second largest city, Gyumri—Leninakan, at the time—, was annihilated. There was destruction in Armenia’s third largest city, Vanadzor—Kirovakan, at the time—, as well.
Close to forty percent of the country’s industrial potential was rendered inoperative as a result of this natural disaster.
But the ex-USSR and the world entire lent a helping hand to Armenia in trying to heal the wounds of this great calamity