Xenia in Baku
To all our friends and family:
WE ARE OK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As some of you may have heard, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook Baku at 10:10 pm (1:10 pm US East Coast Time), Saturday evening, November 25. According to reports, two earthquakes happened simultaneously just south of Baku over the Caspian Sea and just to the north.
We were watching the evening BBC news. Nia was in the kitchen making popcorn while I had gone into the back to put a book away. As I left the den I suddenly heard sounds like "pop" "pop" and then the building started shaking. Nia heard these loud bangs and thought someone above us was walking around very hard. Meanwhile the building started actually jumping up and down. This was the first shock registering 5.9 magnitude. I yelled to Nia that we are having an earthquake and at which time the second 6.5 magnitude shock hit. Immediately the building started swaying - we are on the ninth floor on a hillside. Nia had braced herself up against the hallway wall because she was afraid of falling. I yelled to Nia to get Xenia. At this time books and other articles started flying off the entertainment center, pictures coming off the wall and a lamp crashing to the floor. When Nia got into Xenia's room, Xenia was up saying that her bed was moving. I yelled that we have to get out of the building as more items started falling off bookcases. The noise at this time was unbelievable - the sounds of the bulding graoning, cracking and what was just the earth moving.
I thought a jet was taking off next to us. I never a thought a building could move that much. Nia grabbed Xenia we wrapped her in a blanket and went out into the hallway. We started down the nine flights of stairs. At about the fifth floor landing the building took another jolt, at which time Nia had to stop and brace herself up against the wall on the landing. It actually seemed like the stairway was twisting. At this point I grabbed Xenia from Nia and we proceeded down into the building lobby which was pitch black. As we got to the lower floors, there was ample evidence of cracks in the building and plaster littering the stairs. We continued down into the parking area and exited the building.
Before leaving the parking area, we put Xenia into her red wagon and hauled her away from the building. Nia and I only had bathrobes on while we had a blanket to wrap Xenia in. Many of the people were in bedclothes, with no shoes, etc.
It was about 45 to 50 degrees outside. Once we made sure that all Exxon people were accounted for, we started making plans to get to a "safe" location. Myself, our security manager and our general manager made conscious decisions to reenter the building to get some things. At this point, I was probably the scarcest that I have ever been. It was the realization that another shock could cause the building to go over. I never ran up nine flights of stairs in my life so quickly. Upon entering the apartment I immediately grabbed two pieces of luggage and just grabbed whatever clothes I could. There were things laying all over the apartment. I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could. Nia got changed in the bushes behind the apartments, I now at least had a coat over my bathrobe and Xenia was wrapped in more blankets.
All the women and children were quickly shuttled over to the Exxon offices, I followed later. The streets of Baku were littered with various pieces of buildings that broke off but I could see no buildings had collapsed. One surprise was that the city never lost electricity. Once at the Exxon offices, we took an accounting of everyone and then proceeded to a low level hotel on the outskirts of the city. We bought out the gift store all the personal/hygienic items that they had. We got into our rooms and then gathered in the restaurant to eat, drink beer and to discuss out experiences.
Early Sunday morning, at about 8:00 am, I was awakened by an aftershock. Later on Sunday we went back to our apartment, and gathered up enough clothes and other items to last us several days. Exxon is planning on having structural engineers examine the apartment building before we occupy it again. We had an inspection of the office last tonight and decided this afternoon to try and resume business tomorrow. We will be at the hotel for several more days.
Again, as I said we are all OK. Just a little shaken up. Please pass this note on to anyone else you think may want to know. I am working off an old email directory, so there are several addresses that I am missing.
Nicholas Worontsoff, Jr.