December 7 marks the 30th anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Spitak. The earthquake hit 40% of the territory of Armenia, densely populated regions with 1 million people.
The cities of Spitak, Leninakan (now Gyumri), Kirovakan (now Vanadzor) and Stepanavan, as well as hundreds of villages were totally or partially destroyed. Twenty-five thousand people were killed, 500 thousand were left without shelter. 17% of the buildings were destroyed, the work of 170 industrial companies was halted.
Immediately after the earthquake Armenians all over the world united and offered comprehensive support to the Motherland. “SOS Armenie,” “Aznavour for Armenia” and tens of other organizations were created. Many Diaspora Armenians rushed to Armenia, bringing food, clothes and medicine.
Many of them – doctors, psychologists, constructors, architects – stayed in Armenia and personally participated in the rescue works.
A number of countries of the world continued to support Armenia years after the earthquake. Italians built a whole dwelling district in Spitak, Norwegians built a hospital, which was named after great humanist F. Nansen.
A school built by an Englishmen was opened in Gyumri. Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher participated in the opening ceremony.
Unfortunately, 30 years after the disaster, its consequences have not been fully eliminated. According to official statistics, about 500 families still need shelter. The government has allocated AMD 460mln in its FY2019 budget to solve the issue. Almost AMD 65 billion has been spent over the past ten years to solve the housing problems. The Armenian Church announced yesterday it would donate 10 flats to vulnerable families in Gyumri and Spitak.
Today Armenia and its friends will pay tribute to the memory of the victims. Arting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, members of government, guests from Russia, US, Germany, Belarus and other countries will visit Gyumri to participate in a series of events.
In the St. Vartan and St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Baptistery of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; a Repose of Souls Service will be held for the 1988 earthquake victims. The service will start at 11:00 a.m.