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. Gorbachev cut short his trip to fly back to Moscow. 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relief efforts can be considered to have been equally inadequate due to the non-compatible medical equipment and out-of-date medications supplied. The tremor lasted approximately I min ute, followed by an aftershock 4 minutes later of magnitude 5.8. 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. 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. It was a message of peace.”. 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. 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. After the Armenian earthquake, thousands were given temporary shelters made of concrete blocks or old railway cars. It was followed four minutes later by a magnitude-5.9 aftershock; together these quakes caused extensive damage across a 400-square-kilometer area. The Soviet Union also sent "500 of its best doctors" to Yerevan, per the AP. “On the evening of the 7th, the “Time” program announced a huge earthquake in Armenia… American Red Cross President Dick Schubert surveys the damage in Armenia following the earthquake in December. In 735 A.D., the Vayots Dzor Province was struck by an earthquake with aftershocks that lasted for 40 days. According to Radio Free Europe, a story published in January 1989 about six men being found 35 days after the earthquake, surviving on canned pickles and fruits, ended up being too good to be true. For more of her work visit http://www.bethanyaugliere.com. Often, it took up to five hours to travel 46 miles in order to reach hospitals in Yerevan. This disaster produced an unprecedented worldwide response to its traumatic consequences. 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. 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. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed, less than 20% of the lost housing had been rebuilt. The United States and the world responded with a rush of humanitarian aid. 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. However, according to EVN Report, at the time Gorbachev had a turbulent relationship with the Armenian people due to the Soviet Union's refusal to honor Nagorno-Karabakh's annexation referendum in 1988. In 1988 he was in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, just as the news that an earthquake had leveled Armenia’s Yerevan hit. A strike-slip component in the rupture meant that the blocks also moved laterally past each other, rather than just up or down. 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. (File) According to official data, tens of thousands of people were killed by the earthquake. “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. With its epicenter located in the town of Spitak, the northwestern region of Armenia shook for approximately 30 seconds. 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. Rescue efforts continued until December 24th, after which the focus turned towards large scale clearing of the rubble. Rumbles from the quake were felt as far as Georgia and Azerbaijan. 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. Here's what really happened with that huge earthquake in Armenia. Mental health studies have shown that many of the earthquake survivors still live with post-traumatic stress disorder. Humanitarian system be temporary, makeshift housing the world United with an outpouring of assistance for efforts! 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