1948 Ashgabat earthquake

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1948 Ashgabat earthquake
Date 5 October 1948 (1948-10-05)
Magnitude 7.3 Mw
Epicenter 37°57′N 58°19′E / 37.95°N 58.32°E / 37.95; 58.32Coordinates: 37°57′N 58°19′E / 37.95°N 58.32°E / 37.95; 58.32
Areas affected Soviet Union (Turkmen SSR)
Max. intensity X (Extreme)[1]
Casualties 110,000

The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake, at a magnitude 7.3 Mw, occurred on 6 October near Ashgabat, in the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. Due to censorship by the national government, the Ashgabat earthquake was not much reported in the USSR's media. Historians tend to agree that the ban on reporting the extent of the earthquake casualties and damages did not allow the Soviet government to allocate enough financial resources to adequately respond to the disaster.[2] US Admiral Ellis M. Zacharias, former Deputy Chief of The Office Of Naval Intelligence, on his radio show Secret Missions (twice, on December 12, 1948, and on September 26, 1949), purported that the cause of the earthquake was the first Soviet atomic bomb test.


The earthquake struck at 2:17 in the morning on 6 October 1948. The epicenter of the earthquake was located near the small village of Gara-Gaudan, 25 kilometers southwest of Ashgabat. The earthquake caused extreme damage in Ashgabat and nearby villages, where almost all brick buildings collapsed, concrete structures were heavily damaged, and freight trains were derailed. Damage and casualties occurred in Darreh Gaz, Iran. Surface rupture was observed northwest and southeast of Ashgabat. Media sources vary on the number of the casualties, from 10,000 to 110,000,[3] equivalent to almost 10% of the Turkmen SSR's population at the time.

According to memoirs of survivors, the city's infrastructure was badly damaged, with the exception of water pipes. Electricity was restored six days after the earthquake. The railway station began functioning on the third day.

Aid to victims, as well as restoration of basic needs and infrastructure, was provided by the Red Army.

This earthquake killed future Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov's mother (his father having died during World War II) and the rest of his family, leaving him an orphan.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Comments for the significant earthquake". Significant Earthquake Database. National Geophysical Data Center. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.scgis.ru/russian/cp1251/h_dgggms/ca_2-1998.htm#1 Russian Academy of Sciences. Department of Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry and Mining Sciences. Electronic Scientific Information Journal "HERALD OF THE DGGGMS RAS" № 2(4)'1998. Last retrieved: 17 Jan. 2010
  3. ^ [Most Destructive Known Earthquakes on Record in the World]
  4. ^ Cummings, Sally N. Power and Change in Central Asia, p.118. Routledge (2002), ISBN 0-415-25585-6.