31 years ago this day a major disaster befell Armenia, shaking the cities and towns and claiming numerous lives.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake, which struck the country at 11:41 am local time on December 7, 1988, levelled the second and third largest cities of Leninakan (Gyumri), the towns of Kirovakan (Vanadzor), Stepanavan and Spitak, and numerous vilages in other regions across the republic.
The officially reported death toll was above 25,000, while an estimated 500,000 people were left homeless. The devastating earthquake damaged 17% of the country’s housing fund (with a total area of 8 sq.m). Over 230 industrial units with 82 jobs were left paralyzed in the wake of the disaster. The estimated damage to the country’s economy was 13 billion Rubles.
A day after the earthquake, a delegation led by Nikolay Ryzhkov, the chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers, arrived in Armenia.
More than 113 world countries and seven international organizations offered their comprehensive support to Armenia.
Many international partners and donors continued the assistance also in the subsequent years. Italian and Austrian humanitarian missions embarked on building residential districts in Spitak. Norwegians built a modern hospital, and a British humanitarian team constructed a school in Gyumri.
Due to financial assistance from different sources between 1989-2000, residential houses with a total area of 3.5 sq.m. were handed over for exploitation.
As part of its 2019 budgetary allocations, the Armenian Government has allocated an estimated 3 billion Drams (approx. $630,000) from its funds to address the concerns in the disaster zone.