Turkey, Soviets Fear 200 Dead in 6.9 Tremor
A powerful earthquake rocked eastern Turkey and the Soviet republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan on Wednesday, killing at least 200 people, causing widespread injuries and leaving thousands homeless, Turkish and Soviet authorities said.
A scientist at a seismic station in Yerevan, capital of the republic of Armenia, said he visited the disaster area and estimated the death toll probably would run into the thousands.
There were five confirmed deaths--three women and two children--in eastern Turkey, according to officials there.
The official Soviet news agency Tass called it the strongest earthquake to hit the Caucasus Mountains in 80 years.
The temblor occurred at 11:41 a.m. and registered 6.9 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. An aftershock measuring 5.8 followed less than five minutes later.
The quake was centered near the Soviet-Turkish border between Tblisi, the capital of the Georgian republic, and Leninakan, Armenia’s second-largest city with 200,000 people.
From New York, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev called the earthquake “a grave tragedy.”
Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady I. Gerasimov, who is accompanying Gorbachev on his U.S. visit, said the quake caused “considerable loss of life.”
“A small village has practically disappeared from the face of the earth,” Gerasimov said, but he did not identify the town.
Although most Soviet officials did not give specific numbers of dead or injured, Tass used the sort of language that indicated the death toll could be very high.