GYUMRI (Armenia), December 08, 4:16 /ITAR-TASS/. A quarter of the century after a disastrous Spitak earthquake about 4,500 families, who lost their housing in the Armenian city of Gyumri as a result of the earthquake, continue to live in tiny wooden and metallic dwellings, which lack basic conveniences. This statistical data was made public on Saturday during a visit in the Armenian city by members of the Friendship Group with Armenia from the French National Assembly lower house of parliament headed by Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Rene Rouquet.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union many construction organisations from different Soviet republics have gradually wrapped up their activity in the natural disaster zone that resulted in a sharp decline of housing rented in the area.
Along with housing construction, the unemployment remains the most pressing problem in the districts affected in the calamity. “Over total unemployment Gyumri turned in a zone of misery from the natural disaster zone,” the newspaper Voice of Armenia reported on Saturday. The earthquake has destroyed the industrial potential of the region and then the country’s economy slumped.
On December 7, 1988, strong underground tremors measuring ten points on the 12-point scale have destroyed at 11:41 local time (10:41Moscow time) almost the whole northern part of the Caucasian republic for half a minute. According to official reports, an earthquake hitting the territory with the population of about one million people who have made one third of republican residents claimed more than 25,000 lives, left about 19,000 people disabled and left 530,000 people homeless.
The city of Spitak turned out to be in the epicentre of the earthquake and was ruined to ashes. Along with Spitak and neighbouring villages the natural disaster has destroyed 21 towns and settlements, 324 villages and has destroyed 80 percent of housing, social and production facilities in the second largest Armenian city, Leninakan (now it is named Gyumri). The earthquake has eliminated about 40 percent of industrial potential in the republic.