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The 14th anniversary of the devastating Spitak earthquake commemorated in Armenia - 7 December, 2002

On Saturday, people in Armenia commemorate the 14th anniversary of the 1988 Spitak earthquake.

This natural disaster took lives of at least 25,000 people. The earthquake practically razed to the ground two cities in the north of Armenia - Spitak and Leninakan (present-day Gumri) and more than 100 villages. Several other cities were partially destroyed.

More than 100,000 people were injured, about 4,000 became invalids. More than half a million people in Armenia were left homeless.

All churches in Armenia held prayer and memorial services on December 7th.

14 years after the earthquake, the problems of restoring the lives of people who were affected by this tragedy remain unsolved. Many people still couldn't find work. Only in the last several years some improvements in the situation around affected areas have become noticeable. Every year, about 2,500 new apartments are being built to provide the victims with decent living conditions, however there are still around 9,000 families that are forced to live in makeshift dwellings or trailers.

Even more urgent remains the unemployment problem in the affected areas - the majority of population is still not provided with jobs.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan promised the population of the disaster area to solve completely at least the accommodation problem by the end of 2003.