A strong earthquake struck Romania Wednesday, killing seven people, injuring 122 and heavily damaging buildings in Bucharest and other cities across much of the country, police said.
The temblor was felt in the Soviet Union, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. But the only casualties reported in those nations were in the Soviet republic of Moldavia, where six people were injured and buildings were damaged.Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was in Canada en route to Washington for a summit with President Bush. Gorbachev was in New York to deliver a speech at the United Nations when a killer earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck the Soviet republic of Armenian on Dec. 7, 1988, killing more than 20,000 people.
The following day, Gorbachev cut short his U.S. visit to return to Moscow.
Gorbachev said Wednesday when asked about the earthquake: "Everything is OK. There was no devastation, no destruction."
In Bucharest, where large chunks of concrete and plaster fell from buildings onto sidewalks, two people were killed. Several were injured when they jumped from windows or balconies on first, second and third floors.
Thousands of frightened residents in the city of 2.2 million people fled into streets littered with fallen debris.
Maj. Nicolae Bucur of the Police General Inspectorate in Bucharest said two people died in the port city of Braila and one each in the cities Buzau and Brasov and in Prahova County, all north of the capital.
The inspectorate reported 122 injured, 10 critically, in six counties. They earlier erroneously reported 42 of the injured were in Brasov.
In Golden, Colo., the U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake measured 6.5 on Richter scale. Its epicenter was 100 miles north of Bucharest, in the wooded Vrancea range of the Carpathian Mountains.
The earthquake struck at 1:40 p.m. and rumbled across the Carpathians, which run through eastern Romania and the western border of the Soviet Union.
In Bulgaria, the state BTA news agency said the temblor was felt nationwide but there was minor damage only in Silistra, a town on the border with Romania. A nuclear power plant in Kozlodoui on the Danube River was closed.
In the Soviet Union, the quake knocked out telephone lines and shook buildings in at least three of the country's 15 republics: Russia, the Ukraine and Moldavia.