YEREVAN, U.S.S.R.--Rescuers working around the clock with every-thing from their bare hands to fiber optic cameras have pulled more than 18,000 people from earthquake wreckage, officials said yesterday.
But the smell of decaying corpses filled the air, and hope dwindled for finding more survivors of last Wednesday's earthquake in Soviet Armenia.
"People wander among the debris of what used to be their homes, straining their ears in the hope of hearing the voice of a missing sister, father, brother or simply any human voice," the official news agency Tass reported yesterday from leninakan near the quake's epicenter.
Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, published a scathing article about "scrapbuilders" who constructed shoddy apartment buildings that crumbled into "concrete and metal graves over victims who were buried alive."
Health Minister Yevgeny I. Chazov estimated the tremor killed up to 60,000 people.
Five days after the tragedy struck, shelte, and salvage equipment remained in short supply.
Soviet television showed a worker in Kirovakan, where 60 percent of the houses were destroyed, bending a metal reinforcing rod in a collapsed concrete wall by hand. Another man moved mounds of broken concrete with a shovel.
A man and boy huddled over a fire in a small bucket, their only source of warmth during five nights spent on a pile of rubble because there were not enough tents, a television announcer said. Snow and temperatures of 14 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit were forecast.
Boris Shcherbina, a deputy prime minister who directed the cleanup after the April, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, told Tass in Leninakan:
"We shall work without letup to save everyone still alive under the debris, even on the 10th and the 12th day after the disaster. We shall work for as long as there is a chance to save the life of at least one unhappy victim."
He said more than 5000 people had been rescued in Leninakan. Tass said 18,500 had been saved in the entire disaster area, which had a population of 700,000.
The second crash of a relief plane in two days was reported.
All seven crewmembers died when a Soviet-built Yugoslav military transport loaded with medical equipment and other supplies went down 10 miles from the airport in Yerevan, capital of the Armenian republic. Boris Panyukov, first deputy aviation minister, made the announcement in Moscow.
Local reporters said the An-12 cargo plane crashed before dawn because the pilot mistook a well-lighted highway for a runway.
On Sunday, a Soviet military plane bringing soldiers to help the rescue effort crashed as it approached Leninakan's airport, killing 78 people. An unofficial report from the Armenian news agency Armenpress said it made one pass on a runway, which was damaged by the earthquake and clogged with traffic, and struck a nearby mountain while turning to try again.
Aid continued pouring in from abroad. Council of Ministers spokesman Lev Voznesensky told the Moscow news conference 38 foreign relief planes had arrived.
Among planes reaching Yerevan yesterday was one carrying Armand Hammer, the American industrialist who has done business with the Soviets for decades and helped after the Chernobyl disaster. Tass said he brought medical equipment and a check for $1 million from the World Vision Organization.
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