Tashkent, the capital of Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, lies in one of the world's "earthquake belts" -- the regions which geological faults render more liable than average to earthquakes.
Tashkent, the capital of Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan, lies in one of the world's "earthquake belts" -- the regions which geological faults render more liable than average to earthquakes. Tashkent itself suffered severe shocks in 1966. It is now one of the main centres of scientific research into earthquake prediction.
SYNOPSIS: Tashkent is the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union, after Moscow, Liningrad and Kiev. It is almost entirely new -- rebuilt after being devastated by the earthquakes that first struck on the twenty-sixth of April, 1966.
They began jus after dawn that Tuesday morning. After the first main shock, lesser tremors continued for several months. Altogether there were more than five hundred. Loss of life was not reported to be heavy, but the physical destruction was severe. More than a quarter of a million people were made homeless. Almost no hospitals or schools were left standing.
Help poured in from all over the Soviet Union. Within a year, the city had been rebuilt. But the people of Tashkent have not forgotten the experience.
They have built a research institute near the site of the earthquake's epicentre, devoted to predicting shocks in advance -- so that people can be moved out of danger when a quake is expected. The Soviet authorities co-operate with neighbouring countries; they warned the government of Afghanistan of the likelihood of the earthquake that struck there a few months ago. And they exchange information and visits with seismologists and geologists from California and Tokyo -- two other regions particularly prone to earthquakes.
Their method of prediction is to study the chemical composition of the water lying eight thousand feet (2,500 metres) under the city. It is brought to the surface through specially-drilled bore-holes, and continuously analyzed. Two days or so before an earthquake, it's composition changed abruptly. This gives a remarkably accurate warning.
But people should bot need to move out of Tashkent. The authorities claim that the new buildings will withstand shocks of up to nine points on the Richter scale -- more severe than the devastating earthquake in China three years ago.