Soviet Union When the Earth Shook

A killer quake devastates Armenia, and the West responds with unprecedented aid

In the central square of Leninakan, the hands on the clock tower stood frozen at 11:41 a.m., as if to record for posterity that terrifying moment when the city of 290,000 was, without warning, shaken violently by a rumble from the earth. Concrete and stone snapped like brittle twigs, hospitals and schools crashed down on patients and children, and workers were entombed in factories. Within minutes the city was split apart like an accordion. Forty-five miles to the north, the town of Spitak, population 30,000, was virtually "erased from the face of the earth," in the words of a Soviet television...

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