Every 6 October is Earthquake Remembrance Day in Turkmenistan to remember the terrible events and heavy death toll during a massive earthquake that shook the capital city of Ashgabat in 1948.
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Late at night on 5 October, 1948, the buildings of Ashgabat suddenly starting shaking violently as the earth heaved underneath them. The powerful earthquake lasted a mere 10 seconds, but that was enough to collapse nearly all of the buildings in the city since they were constructed out of bricks.
Next morning, the USSR was shocked by the devastation those ten seconds had caused. An air convoy of relief supplies was quickly rushed in, and many were airlifted out of the city to receive badly needed medical attention elsewhere.
While initial estimates of the death toll were around 10,000, new calculations made decades later estimate well over 100,000 died in Ashgabat and surrounding areas of Turkmenistan and neighbouring Iran.
On Earthquake Remembrance Day, there are solemn wreath-laying ceremonies held in Ashgabat and in the city of Gypjak. Many visit the graves of those who perished in the quake and pray for those impacted but whose lives were spared. The mosque in Gypjak offers a free meal to government officials attending the ceremonies there.