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11-17 Sept 2010

Armenia hosts NATO disaster response exercise “ARMENIA 2010”

Exercise “ARMENIA 2010”, a consequence management field exercise organized by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC), will take place on 11-17 September 2010 in Armenia.

The field exercise (including a command post element, training and demonstration day) will be based on the fictitious scenario of a serious civil emergency situation in the Kotayq Region near the city of Arzni.

Up to 1.000 participants from NATO and Partner countries as well as representatives and observers from other international organizations and nations are expected to take part in the event, which is held annually to practice disaster response mechanisms and enhance co-operation in emergency situations.

“ARMENIA 2010” is the tenth field exercise conducted by the EADRCC since 2000 and the first to be hosted by Armenia as its contribution to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme for 2010. It is the first field exercise open to Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Istanbul Cooperation Iinitiative (ICI) countries for participation.

The Initial Planning Conference took place in Brussels on 14 and 15 December 2009 and the Main Planning Conference was held on 16-18 March 2010 in Yerevan, Armenia. More than 100 persons from 23 nations participated in the conference.

The Final Planning Conference will be was held in Yerevan/Armenia on 21-24 June 2010. Representatives from 24 nations as well as from NMAs, PB&Cs, UN-OCHA, ICRC, UNDP and the German NGO Iohanniter, participated in the event.

The scenario

On 11 September 2010 at 09:05 a.m., an earthquake of 7.2 Richter Scale (equal to the moment magnitude) occurred in the Kotayk region of the Republic of Armenia. The hypocenter was located in 10 km depth, and the epicentre was located 8 km north-east of the city of Abovyan.

Figure 1: The epicentre (red/black)

A high number of casualties have been reported (first estimations amount to 12,000 dead and 17,000 wounded) and thousands of buildings have been destroyed. The cities of Charencavan and Abovyan, as well as the adjacent rural communities are amongst the most affected areas.

The water supply and drainage systems of the region are no longer functioning. Means of communication, gas and energy supply systems, as well as infrastructure and means of transport are heavily affected. Fires have spread, the hospitals of the region have been destroyed and humanitarian organisations cannot operate anymore. Thousands of citizens have lost their homes. The international airport of Yerevan was affected by the earthquake  but is still usable.

The unaffected population tries to get their relatives out from the disaster zones with the help of the tools at hand. National and international media are closely following the situation and the relief activities.

In the evening of 11 September 2010, large scale search and rescue activities are underway, and the Republic centralized its capacities on the implementation of rescue operations.

In the meantime, an accident occurred in the chemical factory of Abovyan City, releasing chlorine to the atmosphere.

As a result of the earthquake, the water dams of Argel have been damaged and are consequently leaking water. Some land slides have occurred.

From other regions of the Republic, people are trying to reach the disaster zones by car in order to receive information about their relatives. Traffic jams are blocking the roads. A specialized transport vehicle with radiological sources is inflicted and damaged in a traffic accident.

Thousands of chickens have died in Lusakert bird breeding company and in a village nearby because of unknown infectious disease.

All available national capacities have been deployed to the disaster zones and are overburdened to cope with the consequences of the disaster.

On 11 September 2010, the Republic of Armenia requested international assistance to respond to the consequences of the earthquake. Therefore, search and rescue, medical, and CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) teams, dam engineers as well as psycho-social and logistical support have been requested.