The Quake. December 7th, 1988-2010

It seemed, as though a gigantic helicopter is trying to lift our school and take it somewhere. The sounds felt exactly like that, and the jerking and lap-dancing of the walls felt exactly like that. The teacher of Armenian asked us to stay quiet for a moment, then she opened the door of the classroom, looked out at something and told us: take hands children, and follow me.

The obedient rows of Soviet-trained children followed the teacher into the corridor and clashed into a running screaming river of children and teachers. By now everybody understood it is an earthquake. “Zhazhq e, pakheq!!!” (“It’s an earthquake, run…”) was heard from everywhere.

Cracks appeared on the walls, stones started falling. Some fell and the running crowd stampeded them…

…a teacher threw me out of the third floor window. The teacher of Physical Education caught me safely, put me on the ground and asked: “Are you OK?” Then, without expecting an answer, turned back to catch another child thrown out of the window.

“Where’s my sister?”, I asked to nobody. “Where’s my coat?”, I asked to that nobody again, feeling the shivering cold.

“Are you OK?”, asked the teacher of Physical Education to yet another child he caught, and turned to us with tired eyes: “Run home, kids, maybe you’ll find your parents?”

I can’t believe so many years have passed. It is all still so vivid in my mind. …and so much in Gyumri still reminds of the Quake.

I still hate Soviet constructed buildings and avoid 9+ storied buildings if I can.

I found my sister – coming out of the school’s front door in an orderly row, with other first-graders, led by teachers. The little ones weren’t even frightened, the teachers were so well organized.

I never found the teacher of the Physical Education who saved so many lives that day, catching kids one after another, and another and another… was a regular Gyumri guy, one of many, who only thought about saving lives, turning into regular heroes, who remained nameless and unknown…

Repost | Dedicated to heroes of Gyumri Earthquake of 1988


8 thoughts on “The Quake. December 7th, 1988-2010

  1. thank you for posting this, I was wondering if you would post about this anniversary. if I had not seen it, I was prepared to send you an email asking why you did not post about it… so thank you !
    I am very sadden now, today is a very horrible day to remember. 25,000 of my ppl died with in 1st 5 mins of the quake and another 25k died over period of 2-3 weeks trapped in the rubble and collapsed buildings. 50k of my ppl needed not die. today is a very sad day for all of us Hays.
    I agree with Observer, if a Gyumri-Spitak magnitude hit our wonderful beautiful best city in the world Yerevan, she would would suffer the same fate as our Gyumri. When I think about this quake and the devastation it created on my homeland and killed 50k+ of my ppl, I dont know what words to speak or post. verbally I can not begin to describe my emotions of this atrocity. when I cry (*yes I’m not ashamed to cry) I cry ONLY for my homeland & ppl…whether it be for the ’88 quake, March 1st 2008 civil unrest, the poverty I see of my homeland, or the homeless women & children on the streets begging for few dollars so they can eat and be warm for the winter.
    My homeland & ppl mean alot to me, there is nothing or no one more important to me than my Hayastan & Hayutyun. I wish I was multi-billionaire so that I can rebuild Gyumri-Spitak and clean up the rest of the homeland and help everyone who is in dire need

    I dedicate this song and personal message to my homeland & ppl:
    Im sirelu angin Hayer jan, misht yes dzer caver@ tanem
    misht dzer kyanqin merrnem, dzezanic lav@ ch’ka
    ba duq eq mer hyus@ ev lyus@ ayntex
    aranc dzez sax mer Hayastan@ ch’ka, mer Hayutyan@ ch’ka
    duq ayntex yerbeq ch’mtaceq vor aystex menq dzez enq morranum
    iskakan Hayer@ u Hayaserner@ misht qo masin mtacum en eli
    duq misht mer srterum mnum eq yev ayl mer mtqerum

  2. On another note: I have to be typical Andranik here and mention about the connection between FAKE Armenians and a travesty of Armenia
    I want to point out that today gor gor fake Armenians will NOT be remembering this day, nor will they gather in mass to commemorate this atrocity on the homeland. they are always hell bent on remembering-commemorating and promoting April 24th, but never Dec 7 or March 1 or Oct 27 or any other serious turmoil dates of Armenia’s recent history. it is in typical fake Armenian hateful fashion to turn their backs on Armenia for Dec 1988. those of you who will come running to their defense will do so in fear of them, because you bow down to them. I know them better than anyone else outside of their inner circles. They were smiling inside when they saw Hayastan in devastation, knowing that it gave them opportunity to turn their backs on us, nothing gives them more pleasure than to show their hate & discrimination on Hayastan, but I will bet my LIFE & SOUL that if it were ARABanon or TURKstanbul that was in devastation, the gor gors would come a running and give their life savings to help that city of their origins
    I will recognize that spyurrq Hovnanyan family (specifically Gevorg, founder of FAR and who died in Sept. 2009) did show care for Armenia by providing what aid they could and calling on other spyurrqs to get involved in Armenia. Unfortunately, he was not successful in convincing other gor gor davachan spyurrqs to grow a heart and care for Hayastan, but he did himself what he could and helped Gyumri alot more than any spyurrq in terms of rebuilding and providing medical-financial aid to devastated areas. I give a personal thanks & respect to Gevorg Hovnanyan for doing what he could and to help build new modernized residentials in Hayastan
    It’s too bad gor gors hate Hayastan so much, because if they had helped 20-22 years ago, we would be alot more successful today in terms of unity. however, since they want a division and their overall covert agenda is to make sure Hayastan fails at every level, then there can never be any unity and/or success between both sides
    for those of you who dont know who he is
    here is a video on Gevorg Hovnanyan:
    Apres Gevo jan, qo cavt tanem mer Hay axper, hargankners qez

  3. wow, no comments other than mine & observers???
    I love how all of you prove me correct every time
    when observer posts about politics all of you who comment on his blogs do so desperately because you all think & act as if you know what you’re commenting about, but when he posts about something tragic: such as Dec 7, all of sudden you all keep your fingers still ha???
    hele this goes to show that only me & observer are the real Hays on this forum and who care about Hayastan, the rest of you only PRETEND.
    yev ayl duq uzum eq vor menq dzez chanachenq Hay?
    hele keep dreaming !!!!

    • It was a beautiful and moving post. I commented and linked it on Twitter along with a half dozen other stories about the tragedy as well as about the ongoing ill-advised, faulty construction in Yerevan and Gymri that makes a future tragedy a question of when, not if.

  4. I got the chills reading your post. What is sad that 22 years later when you go to Gyumri you still see traces of the earthquake.
    I am a spyurkahay and do not agree with Andranik’s comments a lot of the times but I have to say there is some truth to what he says about spyurk helping Hayastan. I don’t think they hate Hayastan but it is easier to make a small donation once in a while than to actually do something about Hayastan. It is easier for them to sit in their comfortable homes than to actually move there. I have always said if it was not for my Hayastanci brothers and sisters, I would not be able to go to Hayastan every year and enjoy it. I take my hat off to Hayastancis. I don’t think we could live through the dark days because we do not know how to help our brothers and sisters at time of need.

    • @Hayuhi
      I dont believe for a second that it is a matter of how, but rather in fact it is a matter of: “we DO NOT want to help”. knowing HOW to help is a simple knowledge of common sense. if I see a helpless person drowning in body of water, shall I scratch my head and think to myself: “ara, I don’t know HOW to help him/her” or shall I do what makes humanly sense, which is to jump in the water and drag him/her to safety?
      yes, you dam right you best be thankful to those who live & struggle there every hour of every day of every week and months and years…ARA YEARS !!! if it’s not for ppl such as observer and the rest, there would be NO Hayastan for any of you to visit and/or to DARE claim that she is yours to begin with. they are there because they want to be there, they are there because they want to keep a homeland to claim, they are there because they want to LIVE & BREATH as a Hay in Hayastan. some are forced to leave to try to make sense of their own lives and help their families & friends, some willfully leave because they are selfish greedy bastards who want to live the posh Paris-LA-London life and not look back because they believe themselves to be better and/or above everyone else.
      recently I watched an interview of a segment on Pak Shuka (enclosed market) and the interviewer asked one vendor (an elderly lady maybe in her 60’s) why she remains in Hayastan…why she doesn’t go to LA and live with her son & in-laws and have the better life? her response was beautiful & genuine: translation in english – “this is my homeland, this is where I am born & raised, I am Armenian, this is my Armenia, I belong here, not out there with otars. if the otars want to see me, tell them to come here and we can meet each other and I will show them my homeland, I will host & entertain them”
      The ppl of Hayastan are a special ppl. NOT ALL are greedy & corrupt as the gor gors make them out to be. if you want to help…then ara HELP, stop making excuses: oh we dont know how, oh we dont know this, oh we dont know that. ohhh but you know how to help your beiruts meiruts, your tehran irans, and your stambuls mambuls, che????? when they cry out for your help, ara vazv’zelov you all come a running like the wind and give your lives to help your own from your origin-host cities. however, when the ppl of Hayastan cry out for your help, your response is: oh mexq en, gla gor mla gor chem gidemgor mem gidemgor here take few of my dollars maybe that will help ease your suffering. MONEY DOES NOT SOLVE EVERYTHING. YOU CAN NOT EASE SOMEONE’S MENTAL PAIN WITH MONEY. if your mom dies tomorrow, shall I give you 10 dollars to ease your pain??? yah, 10 dollars & candy should make everything all better, che !!!!
      you all treat Hayastan as if she is a 5 yr old child, as if candy & toys for the ppl will make everyone laugh, smile, and everything be better. you offering band-aid on a wound that need serious surgical operation
      Do what makes sense and stop making excuses, lead by example, not by following others

  5. Pingback: Taking it easy in Gyumri… | The Armenian Observer Blog

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