The US Geological Survey recorded an earthquake near Balkanabat in Turkmenistan with a magnitude of 4.2 out of 10 on the Richter scale on June 1.
Yet the Turkmen government remained silent about the tremor, the independent website chrono-tm.org noted. This, despite Turkmenistan's history of earthquakes, including the worst one in its history in 1948, which killed 110,000 people.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre also reported the quake, about 43 kilometers from the city of Balkanabat, with a measurement of 4.6. That would put the earthquake in the "light" category, where little damage was likely.
Turkmenistan has retained the Soviet practice of not publicizing natural or man-made disasters in the state-controlled media, although the leadership
routinely sends condolences to other countries regarding their own disasters.
That doesn't President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov from bragging that his "era of new revival" has brought scientific progress, advances in education, and new technologies to Turkmenistan -- with its own peculiar brand, of course:
"Turkmenistan has chosen an original, national way of scientific planning and management of the national economy, introduction of innovations in all areas to keep pace with the rapidly changing and developing world today,” he recently boasted at an international science conference in Ashgabat -- and not surprisingly, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan tells us, "The forum participants welcomed these words with a storm of applause."
While silent about the earthquake and other problems back on earth, curiously, Turkmenistan announced June 1 that it was starting a space program and "the day was not far off" when it would launch its first satellite into space.