Quakes in Europe, Peru : 8 Killed, Heavy Damage in Romania; 67 Die in Amazon : 6.5 Tremor Also Felt in 5 Countries
A powerful earthquake struck Romania today, killing at least eight people, injuring 260 and heavily damaging buildings in Bucharest and other cities across much of the country, authorities said.
The temblor, with a magnitude of at least 6.5, tore chunks from buildings in the capital and sent guests fleeing in terror from a downtown Bucharest luxury hotel.
The temblor was felt in the Soviet Union, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, but of those only the Soviet Union reported casualties.
Six people were reported injured and buildings were damaged in the Soviet republic of Moldavia near the Romanian border. A Soviet lawmaker said initial reports from the region indicated there could be an unspecified number of deaths.
In Romania, some people were killed or injured by large chunks of concrete and plaster that fell from buildings onto sidewalks and streets. Several people in Bucharest were hurt when they jumped from windows or balconies.
Thousands of frightened residents in the capital city of 2.2 million people fled into streets as buildings swayed and cracked.
Romania’s General Inspectorate of Police said two people died in Bucharest, two in the Danube River port of Braila, and one each in the cities of Buzau and Brasov, and one each in Ialomita and Prahova counties, north of the capital.
One of the two people killed in Bucharest, shop assistant Petruta Lungu, died when she was hit by a collapsing balcony as she ran outside after the quake struck, police said.
The inspectorate reported 260 people injured, 45 critically. It said 35 of the critically injured were in Bucharest, where 138 people were hurt.
In Calarasi County in southern Romania, the ceiling of a major electrical steel plant crashed to the floor, the state news agency Rompres reported.
The earthquake struck at 1:40 p.m. (3:40 a.m. PDT) and rumbled across the Carpathian Mountains, which run through eastern Romania, the western border of the Soviet Union and southwest Poland.
Rompres said the quake lasted several minutes and was followed by aftershocks.
In Bulgaria, the state BTA news agency said the temblor was felt nationwide but there was minor damage only in Silistra, a town on the border with Romania. A nuclear power plant in Kozlodoui on the Danube river was closed.
In the Soviet Union, the quake knocked out telephone lines and shook buildings in at least three of the country’s 15 republics: Russia, the Ukraine and Moldavia.
In Ottawa, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said when asked about the earthquake: “Everything is OK. There was no devastation, no destruction.”
Gorbachev was in Canada en route to Washington for a summit with President Bush and there were no indications he would change his plans because of the quake.
On Dec. 7, 1988, Gorbachev was in New York to deliver a speech at the United Nations when a killer earthquake measuring a magnitude of 6.9 struck the Soviet republic of Armenia killing more than 20,000 people.
The following day, Gorbachev cut short his U.S. visit to return to Moscow.