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Armenia: Residents Still Living the Spitak Earthquake

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A wooden and masonry house partially collapsed from the quake near Spitak, where more than 21,000 residences were destroyed.

Twenty-five years ago, a massive earthquake turned northern Armenia upside down. Many survivors who still call the area home have had a tough time putting the trauma behind them.

Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, bore much of the damage on December 7, 1988, when a 7.0-Richter-scale earthquake struck the region, with the epicenter in Spitak, 52 kilometers to the northeast. The quake grabbed headlines worldwide and killed at least 25,000 people in the region. Thousands more were maimed and hundreds of thousands left homeless.

“The earthquake in Gyumri continues,” said City Council member Levon Barseghian. “For 25 years, we are living over and over again what happened within 41 seconds.”

A stagnant economy,  combined with failed governmental promises, has hindered the ability of many to rebuild their lives. The city has lost nearly half of its population since 1988. Labor migration is the main reason why, locals say.

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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan. Anahit Hayrapetyan is a freelance photojournalist based in Yerevan and Berlin.

Armenia: Residents Still Living the Spitak Earthquake

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