6 Found Alive 35 Days After Quake : Armenians Survive in Basement Filled With Food

Associated Press

Six people who survived on canned vegetables, fruit and pickles for 35 days after the Armenian earthquake were pulled alive from the basement of a collapsed apartment building in Leninakan, Tass reported today.

The survivors were rescued Wednesday, the 35th day after the Dec. 7 earthquake that killed an estimated 25,000 people in northwest Armenia. Rescuers last pulled a person alive from the wreckage Dec. 26.

The six men were found under the rubble in the basement of a nine-story apartment building which had collapsed on them.

They survived because there was plenty of canned food stored in the basement, Tass said. All are hospitalized in the Soviet Armenian capital of Yerevan but none are in danger.


Tass did not say how the six men were found or who rescued them. Officials had ended the search for survivors weeks ago, saying it was necessary to concentrate on clearing away the rubble to prevent disease from spreading from decayed bodies.

One of the six survivors, Aikaz Akopyan, 50, had medical training and administered massages to the others to relieve the pain of their injuries, Tass said. The first reports said one of the men, Karlen Sarkissyan, had a broken arm, but there were no immediate details on the others’ injuries.

“On the day of the earthquake, I asked five neighbors to help me carry two heavy jars to the basement,” Akopyan was quoted. “Just then, we suddenly heard a terrible roar. The walls began to collapse. I thought a war had started.”

Akopyan said they didn’t worry about food and water because the basement was used to store tins of vegetables, fruits and pickles. “It’s true, we conserved the food in every possible way. But we never doubted for a minute that we would be found and released,” he said.