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17 Survivors of Armenian Quake Reportedly Found After 24 Days

From Times Wire Services

A French radio station reported Monday that 17 earthquake survivors were found in the wreckage of a bread factory in the Soviet Armenian town of Spitak 24 days after the disaster struck.

The station Europe No. 1, quoting a nurse with the aid group Medecins du Monde, interviewed by telephone, said the 17 men and women survived by eating grain and drinking melted snow that leaked from the surface. It said they were found Saturday.

However, a spokeswoman for Medecins du Monde in Paris said she was unable to confirm the report. The central earthquake relief center in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, and the Armenian news agency Armenpress also said they had no information. Telephone communication with Spitak is still cut off, rescuers reported.

The radio said the survivors, whom it described as being in relatively good health, were discovered when bulldozers moved in to raze the shattered factory.

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Europe No. 1’s reporter, Isabelle Ilsen, said about 300 people were believed to have been buried in the remains of the factory and its huge silos. However, the search had been abandoned after only corpses were found, she said.

According to an official count, more than 24,000 people died when the earthquake struck Armenia on Dec. 7. Spitak lost 80% of its population of 20,000.


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