Ashgabat earthquake in 1948

Here is a sad story of the Ashgabat earthquake. Imagine this: a quiet night in the capital of Soviet Turkmenistan, everyone fast asleep. Suddenly, the ground shakes violently. People wake up in confusion, but there’s no time to escape. That’s what happened during the 1948 earthquake in Ashgabat, a disaster that caught the city off guard.

But why was this tragedy so terrible? Let’s dig into the story to find out.

First, it happened at night when everyone was sleeping. People didn’t have a chance to react, and only a lucky few could run from their collapsing homes.

The second problem was how the city was built. They didn’t have good materials, so most buildings were made from weak clay and sand. Houses were like big sandcastles, not strong enough to withstand an earthquake. When the quake hit, roofs made of thick clay collapsed. If you weren’t crushed by falling roofs, you’d struggle to breathe in the dusty chaos.

And Ashgabat’s location wasn’t helping either. It was in a place where earthquakes had happened before. Long ago, an ancient town called Ak-Tepe was wiped out around 2000 BCE. Even the old capital of the Parthian Empire, Nisa, was destroyed by a big underground shake in 10 CE. But in 1881, when Ashgabat was founded, nobody thought much about earthquakes. They didn’t know much about it back then.

So, on that night in October 1948, Ashgabat faced disaster. Even if we go with the lowest estimate of 30,000 people killed, that’s a third of the city’s population gone.

This earthquake didn’t just break buildings; it also cut off communication with the outside world. For days, nobody knew what happened in Ashgabat because news of the tragedy only reached the world days later.

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