a memorial to the 1966 tashkent earthquake

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Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Central Asia’s largest city (approx. population 3 million) is a relatively new city. Unlike Samarkand and Bukhara, there are no ancient mosques or structures to see. The construction is either Soviet or post-1991 modern Uzbek. Much of this is due to a devastating earthquake the epicenter of which was smack in the middle of Tashkent. While there was not a huge loss of life, much of the city was flattened.

On April 26, 1966, a powerful earthquake struck Tashkent at 5:23 a.m. The quake had a magnitude of only 5.2, but because the seismic activity was so deep [from 3 to 8 kilometres below the ground] it was seismically ranked somewhere between an 8 and a 9 on the earth’s surface and caused considerable damage to structures in the city’s center. The center of destruction was concentrated in an area of around 10 square kilometers.

In the aftermath of the 1966 earthquake, Tashkent’s center was nearly completely levelled. More than 36,000 dwellings and public buildings were destroyed either partially or completely. More than 78,000 families, or 300,000 people, were left homeless.

The epicenter point is now the location of a Soviet-era memorial, one of the two from the era that was not destroyed [the other being a statue of the poet Pushkin]. It shows the time and date of the quake, along with an Uzbek husband protecting his wife and child from the quake. Among the few historical sights in modern day Tashkent, this one is indeed worth a visit.

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