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1988: Death toll rises in Armenian earthquake
Up to 45,000 people have died and a further 500,000 are homeless after the devastating earthquake which ripped through Armenia, official figures revealed today.

Rescue work is currently still concentrating on finding any survivors, but hope is waning in Armenia which borders Turkey and Azerbaijan.

The Soviet Union declared today a national day of mourning as the death toll rose and President Gorbachev toured the cities devastated by the earthquake.

It measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and affected an area 80 kilometres in diameter.

Spitak, a town of 25,000 inhabitants, has been completely destroyed and cannot be rebuilt - a new city will have to be built over the wreckage.

Devastating consequences

The city of Leninakan, with 290,000 inhabitants, and the towns of Stepanavan and Kirovakan in the northern area of Armenia, were also hit by the earthquake.

It struck three days ago at 1141 local time when children were at school and most people at work.

With most of Armenia covered in high-rise buildings the consequences have been devastating.

The scale of the destruction has brought criticism the infrastructure was substandard, prompting Soviet authorities to pledge Spitak will be rebuilt with blocks no more than five storeys high.

Medical Aid

The disaster has led to an unprecedented level of openness by the Soviet authorities as they struggle to cope with the devastation.

The Soviet Union has made an appeal for medical aid requesting, in particular, blood transfusion equipment and dialysis machines.

America is sending medical aid and sniffer dogs capable of detecting survivors.

Dogs sent by France alerted aid workers to 60 people buried alive under the rubble yesterday.

India has sent clothes and blankets while Britain is transporting excavating equipment

Five tonnes of clothes have already been collected by Aid Armenia based in Britain.

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Devastation in Armenia
The earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale

In Context
The final number of people who died reached 25,000.

The former Soviet Union came under heavy criticism for failing to co-ordinate rescue work and acting promptly - revealing it had no contingency plans for any disasters.

Twelve thousand families remain displaced as a result of the earthquake after new cities, started by Moscow in 1989, have remained half-built.

A project by the Urban Institute, policy researchers, along with its partners, the Institute for Urban Economics in Moscow and the American University of Armenia, is underway to resolve this.

The goal is to provide permanent housing to those still displaced by the earthquake while restoring the original city centres.

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