Skopje marks 55 years from catastrophic earthquake

 Skopje marks Thursday 55 years since the disastrous earthquake which leveled much of the city on this day in 1963, killing over 1.000 people and leaving 3.000 injured.

An audio-artistic campaign titled “Wake Up Skopje” took place at five different locations in the capital at 05:17h, reminding citizens of the exact time of the earthquake.

Delegations and individuals will lay flowers at the monument of the earthquake victims at Butel cemetery, while a traditional blood drive takes place in the Museum of the City of Skopje, organized by the Skopje Red Cross.

City of Skopje Women’s Organization will hold a poetry reading in the Museum of the City of Skopje, followed by the opening of exhibit “From Brotherhood and Unity ’63 to Skopje ’63”.

An exhibit of artworks by Greek artists will open in the Museum of Contemporary Arts, while screenings of “Dossier Skopje” and music performances will take place in the Youth and Culture Center (MKC).

More that 15.000 homes and apartments were destroyed in the quake, and 28.000 were damaged. The disaster left 200.000 people homeless, many of them forced to seek shelter across Macedonia and then Yugoslavia, the others waiting in improvised tent cities until prefab housing was made available.

Countries from around the world helped rebuild the devastated city, in a completely new architectural style and layout, with several large new urban zones added to the east, west and north. The United Nations coordinated the support effort and despite the Cold War, both Eastern and Western bloc countries helped with resources and personnel.

It is believed that the 1963 earthquake was at least the third time Skopje was destroyed in this fashion, with records of catastrophic quakes in 518 and 1555.