April 15, 2019 - Montenegro marks 40 years since the most devastating earthquake, which, in 1979, hit our country. The earthquake caused catastrophic devastation across the entire Montenegrin coast, over 100 kilometers long, the consequences of which in some areas can still be recognized today.
The earthquake on 15 April 1979 at 7:19 am, with a Richter magnitude of 7.0, caused catastrophic destruction shocking the whole Montenegrin coastal area by the intensity of IX degree Mercalli scale. The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Adriatic Sea, between Ulcinj and Bar, 15 km from the coast. This earthquake took 101 lives in Montenegro and 35 in Albania. Several towns were destroyed, namely Ulcinj, Bar, Petrovac, Budva, Tivat, Kotor, Risan, and Herceg Novi, as well as 250 villages. By the end of 1979, 90 strong earthquakes were recorded with Richter magnitude 4.0 or higher, over 100 earthquakes with Richter magnitude 3.5 - 4.0 and nearly 10,000 weak shakes.
The consequences of the earthquake, which lasted only ten seconds, were more than catastrophic. About 100,000 people were left without a roof over their heads. Ulcinj, Bar, Petrovac, Budva, Tivat, Kotor, Risan, and Herceg Novi saw most of the modern hotel facilities destroyed, with 53 health facilities damaged, 570 social and child protection facilities, and 240 schools.
Most of the cultural and historical monuments were damaged, and about 350 kilometers of highways and 200 kilometers of regional roads were destroyed.
The damage was estimated at over $4.5 billion. But, in the words of the witness, the earthquake in 1979 will be remembered, above all, by despair and solidarity. Assistance to the people of Montenegro came from all the republics of the former Yugoslavia, whose employees in the next decade allocated one percent of their income to help Montenegro.
During the 20th Century, the seismic activity
on the Montenegro territory and its surroundings were characterized by intense seismicity. Several thousand strong and powerful earthquakes occurred in this region during that period. Some of them were recognized as destructive and catastrophic ones. The numerous old archives describe the broader Balkan region and Montenegrin coastal area as a territory with a high level of seismic risk. Montenegro's coastal zone is characterized by much higher seismic hazard than the inland region, not only of Montenegro but also of the broader surrounding. It is essential to emphasize the seismic zones of Ulcinj, Budva, Boka Bay and Skadar Lake (13 June 1563 - Boka Bay, 25 July 1608 - Boka Bay, 15 April 1979 - the Adriatic Sea, 24 May 1979 - Adriatic Sea).
Forty years since the tremendous natural disaster will be marked with different events in all coastal towns of Montenegro- Herceg Novi, Kotor
, Tivat, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj.