Vrancea Romania 1977 (CAR)

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Event ID
197703041921
Event name
Vrancea
Country
Romania
Region in the country
Vrancea
World region
Europe
Epicentral coordinates (long/lat)
POINT(26.7 45.78)
WKT GIS format
GEMECD contributing partner
CAR
Event narrative

On Friday 4th March 1977, at 21:21 local time, an earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5 and focal depth of 89 km occurred in Romania and was felt from Rome to Moscow and from Turkey to Finland.

The earthquake’s epicentre (45.78°N, 26.70°E) was in the Vrancea seismogenic source, in the Carpathian Mountains curvature.

In the USGS EXPO-CAT database it is estimated that during this earthquake 6,501,000 people were exposed to intensity VII or higher, of which around 37% were in rural areas.

This intermediate depth earthquake caused extended damage across the whole of southeastern Romania, especially the part of the country to the east and south of the Carpathian mountain chain, although the worst effects were seen in the capital city, Bucharest.

Epicentral intensity was assessed at I0 = VIII (on the MSK intensity scale) in an area near the Carpathian Mt. curvature, surrounded by large areas of intensity VII towards S-E and N-E; Bucharest, Iasi and Zimnicea were pockets of intensities VIII within the intensity zone VII.

Date of occurrence (UTC)
1977-03-04
date
Time of occurrence (UTC)
19:21:00
time
Date of occurrence (local)
1977-03-04
date
Time of occurrence (local)
21:21:00
time
Day of the week (local)
Friday
Magnitude
7.5
Magnitude units
Moment (Mw)
Focal depth
89
km
Seismological data: source
USGS
Seismological data: comment

ShakeMap Atlas

Overall impact

This earthquake is Romania’s most lethal event in history. In total the earthquake caused circa 1705 deaths and around 11,500 injuries, including at least 120 deaths in Bulgaria and 2 deaths in the Republic of Moldova.

The Romanian casualties (1578 killed and 11,321 injured) were concentrated in Bucharest, with 90% of the killed and 67% of the injured, resulting mainly from the complete collapse of 19 high-rise apartment buildings (of 7 to 14 storeys) that were constructed in the inter-war period as reinforced concrete frames designed only for gravity loads. Most of these buildings had been damaged during the strong November 10, 1940 Vrancea earthquake.

There was also the collapse of 3 public buildings (Ministry of Metallurgy, Faculty of Chemistry and Computer Centre) that due to the time of occurrence were not heavily occupied.

In addition 2 more recently constructed high-rise (10 and 11 storeys respectively) reinforced concrete shear wall structure apartment buildings built in 1962 and 1974 collapsed partially causing significant loss of life.

Elsewhere in Romania, an extremely lethal collapse occurred in Plopeni when a Worker’s Dormitory made of masonry totally collapsed entirely, killing 30 to 60 workers and injuring many.

Very badly damaged was also the town of Zimnicea, as around 80% of its mainly adobe houses were reportedly destroyed. However only 5 people were killed and 62 injured there.

The fatalities in Bulgaria were almost exclusively due to the collapse of 3 reinforced concrete frame buildings with flexible ground floor in the town of Svishtov, just across the Danube River from Zimnicea (the administrative building of “Rudmetal” company, a block of flats at “R. Avramov” street and the youth hostel of the “Sviloza” factory).

Around 130,000 people were made homeless in Romania as 35,600 dwelling units were destroyed.

A World Bank report estimated the direct cost of this earthquake at 1.68 billion US$ (circa 6% of the GDP of Romania in 1977) and 365 million US$ in indirect losses.

Overview data
Loss: Human Casualty
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People injured
11500
number
People injured: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2012). Building damage vs. territorial casualty patterns during the Vrancea (Romania) earthquakes of 1940 and 1977. 15 World Conference of Earthquake Engineering. Lisboa, Portogal, 10p.
People injured: comment

7,598 injuries in Bucharest and 3,723 in the rest of Romania; 165 in Bulgaria; the number of injuries in Moldova and Yugoslavia is not known

People injured: status
Approximate

People seriously injured
2400
number
People seriously injured: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2012). Building damage vs. territorial casualty patterns during the Vrancea (Romania) earthquakes of 1940 and 1977. 15 World Conference of Earthquake Engineering. Lisboa, Portogal, 10p.
People seriously injured: comment

2,369 hospitalised victims in Romania; the number of people needing hospitalization in Bulgaria and Moldova is not known

People seriously injured: status
Approximate

People missing
0
number

People killed
1700
number
People killed: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2012). Building damage vs. territorial casualty patterns during the Vrancea (Romania) earthquakes of 1940 and 1977. 15 World Conference of Earthquake Engineering. Lisboa, Portogal, 10p.
People killed: comment

1,424 in Bucharest and 154 in the rest of the Romania; 120 in Bulgaria; 2 in Moldova


People killed due to ground shaking
1700
number
People killed due to ground shaking: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2012). Building damage vs. territorial casualty patterns during the Vrancea (Romania) earthquakes of 1940 and 1977. 15 World Conference of Earthquake Engineering. Lisboa, Portogal, 10p.

Loss: Building damage
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Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: status
N/A

Number of buildings damaged by shaking: status
N/A

Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking
35600
number
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2007). The Romanian earthquake of March 4, 1977 in terms of economic and social impact. Thirty years from the Romania Earthquake of March 4, 1977. Bucharest, Romania, 1-3 March 2007.

Number of dwellings damaged by shaking
706659
number
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: source
Georgescu, E.-S. and Pomonis, A. (2007). The Romanian earthquake of March 4, 1977 in terms of economic and social impact. Thirty years from the Romania Earthquake of March 4, 1977. Bucharest, Romania, 1-3 March 2007.
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: comment

Number of dwellings in buildings identified to be strengthened or repaired.


Loss: Socioeconomic
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People homeless
200000
number
People homeless: source
Georgescu, E.S. and Pomonis, A. (2007). The Romanian earthquake of March 4, 1977 in terms of economic and social impact. Thirty years from the Romania Earthquake of March 4, 1977. Bucharest, Romania, 1-3 March 2007.

Direct economic loss
1683.3
million US$
Direct economic loss: source
World Bank
Direct economic loss: comment

In Romania only.
World Bank losses estimated for Romania as cited in:
Georgescu and Pomonis (2007): The Romanian earthquake of March 4, 1977 in terms of economic and social impact. In Technical University of Bucharest Confrerence to commemorate 30 years from the Romania earthquake of March 4, 1977.

Munich Re reports 800 million US$ overall direct economic losses.


Indirect economic loss
2860
million US$
Indirect economic loss: source
World Bank
Indirect economic loss: comment

In Romania only.
World Bank losses estimated for Romania as cited in:
Georgescu and Pomonis (2007): The Romanian earthquake of March 4, 1977 in terms of economic and social impact. In Technical University of Bucharest Confrerence to commemorate 30 years from the Romania earthquake of March 4, 1977.


Insured loss
0
million US$
Insured loss: source
Munich Re

Demographics
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Total number of buildings: status
N/A