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Quake Causes 'Loss of Life' in Soviet Central Asia

October 15, 1985|From Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — A powerful earthquake struck the Soviet Central Asian republic of Tadzhikistan Sunday night, killing an undisclosed number of people and destroying homes and factories, Soviet news reports disclosed Monday.

The Tass news agency said the quake registered Force 8 on the 12-point Soviet scale. This is equivalent to 6.2 on the Richter scale and is enough to cause severe damage and many casualties.

Tass reported "loss of life" but in line with Soviet practice gave no casualty figures. An indication that the quake may have caused heavy casualties came in a report that the Soviet leadership had sent condolences to the survivors.

Tass said the epicenter of the quake was Kayrakkum, a town of 32,000 inhabitants. The site is about 145 miles northeast of Dushambe, the capital of Tadzhikistan.

The government newspaper Izvestia said three towns in the republic, including the city of Leninabad with a population of 139,000, which is about 40 miles west of Kayrakkum, were hit by seven successive tremors.

More than 1 million people live in the Leninabad administrative region, which covers 10,400 square miles in northern Tadzhikistan.

The affected area is the site of some of the most powerful hydroelectric stations in Central Asia, but there was no immediate word in the news media about whether dams were damaged by the quake.

A telegram from the Kremlin leadership expressing deep condolences to the families of those who died in the quake said the disaster damaged places of residence, factories and "engineering structures."

It did not make clear if this included local dams.

Quake Damaged Dam

A Western reporter who said he managed to contact a Communist Party official in Leninabad said the official reported some damage to a dam about 10 miles outside Leninabad, but that it had not yet been decided whether there was danger of the dam bursting, necessitating evacuation of local residents.

The reporter said the official declined to provide any details about the death toll in the quake.

Tass also said that Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and the Soviet Union's fourth largest city with more than 1.9 million people, was struck by a tremor measuring five points on the Soviet scale, which is considered a "strong" quake.

The agency gave no details of damage. Smaller quakes were recorded in the ancient Uzbek city of Samarkand and in other Tadzhiki towns including Dushanbe itself, the agency said.

Izvestia said the main quake destroyed a hospital at Gafyrov, just south of Kayrakkum, but staff and patients had previously evacuated it.

Tadzhikistan, a republic noted for its cotton plantations, silk mills and tractor plants, borders Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and India.

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