GUMRI (Combined Sources)–Armenians nationwide commemorated Friday the 19th anniversary of the 1988 Earthquake that destroyed Gumri and the surrounding cities. President Robert Kocharian led official remembrance ceremonies, laying a wreath at a memorial to earthquake victims in Gumri, Armenia’s second largest city.
Shirak regional Governor Lida Nanian, Gumri Mayor Vartan Ghukasian, and Deputy Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian accompanied Kocharian to the ceremony at Gumri’s Savior’s Church. Following a moment of silence, Bishop Mikael Ajapahian, head of the Shirak Diocese of the Armenian Church, conducted a special service of repose for all victims of the quake.
After the ceremony Kocharian spoke to local people who came to the monument to remember their beloved and family members, lost during the quake.
During the last ten years, much work has been done in the region, the Urban Ministry told Armenpress. Practically all secondary schools have been restored, many of the roads have been repaired and thousands of new apartmen’s and homes have been constructed.
Governor Nanian told reporters, however, that thousands of families in Gumri are still living in temporary dwellings. Instead of financing the construction of new homes in the earthquake zone next year, she said, the government will spend 800 million drams on new apartmen’s for several hundred homeless families.
The ministry similarly noted that a lot has yet to be done to fully recover the region’s infrastructures. The government budget released this year allocates 1 billion drams for different construction programs in the region.
In 2001-2004 about 6,000 families in Shirak and Lori provinces, the two areas hit by the earthquake, received apartment purchasing certificates by the Urban Institute of the USAID.
Since 2005, the government has also taken a role in providing financial assistance to homeless families in the region.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated almost every city and village in northwestern Armenia, completely destroying Spitak and Gumri, killing 25,000 people and leaving up to a million people homeless.
According to different estimates, 140,000 were injured and about 1 million people were left homeless. Within 30 seconds the underground temors practically destroyed Spitak, which was at the epicenter of the disaster. Leninakan (Gumri), Stepanavan and Kirovakan (Vanadzor) were also severely impacted. Quakes were registered in Yerevan and Tbilisi, as well. Armenia was offered aid from different sites of the world.