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Earthquake Rocks Soviet Union, Phone Lines Out, U

May 30, 1990

Earthquake Rocks Soviet Union, Phone Lines Out, U.S. Embassy Evacuated With AM-Europe-Quake, Bjt

MOSCOW (AP) _ An earthquake damaged dozens of buildings Wednesday in the southwestern Soviet Union near the Romanian border and was felt from the Crimea to the Baltics, officials said.

A Soviet legislator said initial reports from the region indicated there were deaths, although he provided no details.

Officials reported by telephone that at least six people were injured in the city of Kogul near the Romanian border, and that buildings swayed in the southern part of the republics of Moldavia and the Ukraine.

The quake was centered in the Carpathian mountains of Romania and registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

″The quake was really strong. Everything and everybody was falling,″ said Alexander Yevchenko, deputy chairman of the executive committee of the City Council in Izmail, an ancient fortress city of about 100,000 people.

″People could not stand firmly on their feet.″

Yevchenko estimated about 15 buildings were damaged in the city, including the building that houses his offices.

Damage to buildings and houses also was reported by officials in the cities of Bolgrad, Reni, Kogul and Komrat.

Ilmars Bishers, deputy chairman of the Council of Nationalities of the Soviet parliament, told legislators the quake killed people in the region, but he gave no details, the Tass news agency reported.

Six people were hospitalized in Kogul, in the southern part of Moldavia, said Lt. Ivan Koltuk of the regional Interior Department. He said buildings swayed and residents ran into the streets in panic.

The quake shook buildings in the capital of Moscow and Tass reported it was felt as far north as Leningrad and the republic of Latvia. The U.S. Embassy building was evacuated temporarily.

″We felt the shock and that’s it,″ said a woman who answered the telephone in Kishinev, the capital of Moldavia. The republic of 4.3 million people borders Romania.

In the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, journalist Gennady Bondarenko said people felt a light shock but there was no damage.

″Just the spoons clanked a bit and the dishes slid a little,″ he said in a telephone interview. Bondarenko said some frightened residents fled their homes to stand in the streets but returned later.

In Moscow, 710 miles northwest of Kishinev, the quake shook the offices of The Associated Press offices and other structures throughout the capital.

U.S. officials ordered the older American Embassy in Moscow evacuated.

″It’s an old building, and when the upper floors shook we called around other places in town and closed the building as a precaution to do safety checks,″ said embassy spokesman Jim Bullock.

″We have people inside doing a top-to-bottom check.″

He said the 10-story building was expected to reopen Thursday. It is separate from the newer embassy compound. U.S. officials say an office building in the new complex was bugged so heavily by the Soviets it is to be torn down.

An earthquake that struck Soviet Armenia in December 1988 killed an estimated 25,000 people and leveled buildings in villages and cities. That quake registered 6.9 on the Richter scale.

The Richter scale gauges the amount of energy released by a quake as measured by the ground motion recorded by seismographs. A quake of magnitude 6 can cause severe damage. One of magnitude 7 is reckoned as a major earthquake.

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