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Friday, 7 December 2007

7 December 1988, Armenia, earthquake...

My heart is with all those who lost loved ones...

I was around Republic sq in Yerevan. Do not remember why I was there (instead of being at school), I think I was wandering around bookstores. So did not feel the quake, but soon it became clear that something very bad happened, the atmosphere around was becoming increasingly terrifying... There was lack of information, lots of speculations; especially we had fears of safety of Armenian Nuclear Plant and chemical factories (Nairit and others); we were glued to the radio to get as much news as possible... People started driving in their thousands towards Spitak and Leninakan (Gyumri). It created some obstacles for aid workers but you could not stop the flow. Everyone wanted to go and reach his/her relatives and help others to save lives. I also remember lots of volunteers for blood donations, people were queuing to give their blood to save life of others.

I remember perhaps unprecedented level of international aid that former Soviet Union asked and received from around the world. It helped a lot - not only for assistance per se or its material value but also providing with significant emotional support. Even songs by international stars, like the one produced by Aznavour - Pour toi Aménie - For you, My Arménia, were of invaluable assistance. We were devastated, but suddenly felt that we were not alone. The tragedy 'opened up' Soviet boarders and we were like members of international community.

I wish we remember about the earthquake zone and act on it not only during the anniversaries, but rather all over the year, so that we no longer have earthquake zone. It is impossible to get rid of people's memories, they are immortal, but we have to get rid of 'earthquake zone'.




*video via laztechs

4 comments:

Myrthe said...

From what I know from talking to Armenians who are not from the earthquakezone and who don't visit the area, many people don't realize really to what an extent the north has not recovered from the earthquake yet. So many people are still living in what was once supposed to be temporary livingquarters. Also, there is absolutely no work in the area apart from family businesses such as shops, taxiservices etc. or working for the state (in schools, state offices etc). I know that employment is a huge issue in the rest of Armenia as well, but still...

Unfortunately I couldn't make it to Spitak on Friday this year.

artmika said...

19 years passed (!), and for people who still live in such conditions, the pain should be even more unbearable and acute... Their problems become THE topic only from election to election, and from anniversary to anniversary, when they get at least HOPE. In between, it's grey and miserable, especially winters...

Myrthe said...

Yes, winters are especially harsh in those conditions. The health of people still living in "temporary housing" is noticeably worse than that of people living in normal stone houses. I spent one winter in one of the prefab houses in Spitak, which is not even the worst kind of temp. housing out there (at least it is not a container or some other iron shed), and that was no fun. Imagine living like that for almost twenty winters...

artmika said...

That should be very harsh... I remember winters in early 90s in Yerevan, without heating and electricity - probably the toughest period in my life so far. But at least I lived in a nice (and proper) apartment...