Spitak Earthquake Case Study

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Communist Country Earthquake
Spitak Earthquake, Armenia (USSR) ­ 1988:
Occurred 11th December 1988, In
Northern Armenia at 11:40 local time
6.8 magnitude affecting an area of 80km
The focus was 10km underground
Epicentre was 40km from Leninakan in
the south of the Caucasus' Mountains
It caused limited damages to Georgia,
Turkey and Iran
There were at least 119 aftershocks
5 sub events occurred within 11 seconds
and an aftershock of 5.3 occurred 4
minutes later
Boundary between the Eurasian and
Arabian plates on a conservative plate
boundary
It occurred on a fault line and there was a
1m vertical displacement as a result
There was little planning for a
circumstance like this ­ leading to the
high death rates
It was made worse as about 50,000 Armenians had fled back into the area to escape
persecution in Azerbaijan
Impacts:
45,000 people died
15,000 people were injured
517,000 people were left homeless
342 villages were damaged and 58 were destroyed
314 building collapsed and a further 641 needed to be rebuilt
1,264 buildings needed to be repaired and strengthened
Only 24% of homes remained inhabitable
The Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant was shut down for 6 weeks for security reasons
There was a direct economic cost of $14.2 billion
Many hospitals collapsed and two-thirds of doctors were killed and a lot of needed medical
equipment was destroyed
130 factories were destroyed and 170,000 people were left unemployed
Responses:

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Communist Country Earthquake
The initial response was slow from the government with lack of medical care
There were heavy criticisms of the Soviet government on the poor quality of housing
They promised to address this and build more earthquake proof buildings
5 billion rubles were set aside to deal with the disaster
The Soviet Union requested foreign aid and it came in the largest foreign co-operation since
World War 2
European countries sent aid in the form of medical supplies, rescue equipment, and trained
personnel…read more

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