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7 Killed When 2nd Quake Relief Plane Crashes at Armenia Airport

December 12, 1988|Associated Press

YEREVAN, Soviet Union — A second relief plane crashed today, killing seven people, as quake rescue workers toiled around the clock with everything from their bare hands to fiber-optic cameras to save more than 5,000 people from the rubble of the 6.9 earthquake that hit Armenia six days ago.

Tens of thousands of people are dead, but one official said the rescue work will continue their work "while there is still a chance to save even one more unfortunate person."

The second relief plane crashed near the Armenian capital. The Yugoslav military plane crashed while trying to land at Yerevan airport with medical supplies after mistaking a brightly lighted highway for a runway.

On Sunday, a Soviet military transport plane crashed as it approached the airport at Leninakan, a city hard hit by Wednesday's quake. Seventy-eight people died. (Story on Page 8)

The Yugoslav plane was part of an international relief effort. Council of Ministers spokesman Lev Voznesensky told a news conference in Moscow that 38 relief planes have arrived from abroad, with the most--six--from France. He and other officials said 923 specialists from abroad with 216 search dogs were working in the disaster area.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Geneva-based League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in Yerevan that there is little hope of more survivors' being found in the rubble piled high in several Armenian cities, including Leninakan, near the quake's epicenter, and Spitak, which was virtually wiped out.

The spokesman, George Reid, said only trapped people who managed to find water and had an air supply would survive.

Cold Weather Predicted

Reid quoted reports that only 150 people survived in Spitak, where about 25,000 people lived before the quake. Other reports said only 10% of the population remained.

Bitter cold weather was forecast for Armenia overnight, worsening conditions for the 500,000 people left homeless by the quake. The Soviet Meteorological Center said the temperature in Yerevan will drop to 14 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit.

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