With a magnitude of nine on the Richter scale, the quake flattened the city and killing some 176,000 people, 80 percent of the Turkmen capital's population. In terms of numbers of dead, that would make it one of the deadliest earthquakes ever.
One of the victims of the earthquake was the mother of former President Sapamurat Niyazov. His father had already perished in World War II and the young Turkmenbashi was sent to an orphanage. For the Turkmen people, a rags-to-riches story without a happy end.
-- Luke Allnutt