Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

Brief Report

International Red Cross Response to the Earthquake in Armenia, December 1988

Andrei K. Kisseleva1

a1 Undersecretary General, League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 1982-1989

An earthquake with the destructive magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Armenia on Wednesday, 7 December 1988 at 1142 local time. It devastated an area 80 km in diameter in the northern part of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), encompassed the towns of Leninakan, Spitak, Stepanovan, and Kirovakan, and killed some 25,000 persons (Table 1). Almost 15,000 persons were rescued alive. The load placed on medical facilities and transport capabilities was profound. Many Armenian nurses and physicians died during the earthquake and most of the hospitals and clinics within the disaster area were destroyed (Tables 1,2). More than 31,000 persons required some form of medical assistance in hospitals. Some 12,000 (38%) were conveyed by some form of ambulance. Of these, 82% were received by hospitals within the Armenian SSR and 22% still were hospitalized at the beginning of the newyear. Only 13% of those who received care at a hospital died in the hospital. More than 100-thousand victims had to be transported from the scene.