July 01, 1995

American On Island During Sakhalin Quake



American On Island During Sakhalin Quake
A remote section of Sakhalin. Denis Kostyuck

Michael Allen, of Crescent, Iowa works on Sakhalin Island. He was one of the few Americans (or foreigners, for that matter) on there when the devastating earthquake destroyed the island’s northern city of Neftegorsk on May 28, claiming over 1,800 lives. What follows is his powerful firsthand account of the events on the island surrounding the quake. When the quake hit, he was attending a graduation party for some of his Junior Achievement students.

I didn’t actually feel the tremor, though it was only 100 kilometers away, on the other side of the island, because the music was loud and the party lively at the discotheque in Aleksandrovsk-Sakhalinsky. Our only notice came from anxious parents who had felt the shock, and came pounding at the door in slippers to see that their children were safe. They were.

The kids happily waved them off and the high-school graduation party wound down in the wee hours of Sunday, May 28, as such parties did that night in recreation centers in little towns all across Sakhalin.


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