At the end of November 2019, Azov became shallow. In the area of Primorsko-Akhtarsk, the water retreated hundreds of meters from the coast, an even larger shallowing could be observed by the Rostovites. But if a common man in the street viewed an unusual natural phenomenon with curiosity, then the old residents of the Azov coast of the Krasnodar Territory reacted to this with alarm. Their memory harbored memories of the catastrophe of October 1969, now completely forgotten.
When he was a student, the author spent a week or two annually in Azov in a simple adobe hut. The warm sea, sandy beaches, mud volcanoes, fresh fish, Temryuk cognac, Taman wines, local beer and ice-cold kvass, bunches of grapes, rock ballads from a worn-out turntable – a paradise for a student who is stuck with granite from science. But the more idyllic paradise looks, the darker and more hidden dangers it conceals. In this case, Azov is fraught with trouble.
Due to the fact that the Sea of u200b u200bAzov is extremely shallow, it is here that you can observe a rare natural phenomenon – wind surge and water surge. When the wind grows stronger and blows for several days, it literally drives the water hundreds, and sometimes thousands of meters from the coast. The catch is that as soon as he calms down, Azov regains his position. And his return is not always peaceful.
Scary October Night 1969
From about October 25, 1969, on the Azov coast from the Kerch Strait to the Primorsko-Akhtarsk region, the south and south-west wind (usually called “low wind”) was continuously blowing, driving water from the Black Sea and pushing the Azov waves to the north. Thus, the water level dropped a full meter, exposing the bottom on a strip almost a kilometer wide. Suddenly the wind died down, absolutely died down. There was a kind of oppressive silence. There were no birds in the sky, and domestic animals were restless.
It is worth noting that the relief of the Taman Peninsula on the Azov coast is low-lying, flat, indented by hundreds of estuaries. Small hills up to 80 meters are often crowned with mud volcanoes. For example, the dominant height in the center of Temryuk is the Military Hill (a must-see), which offers a stunning view of the Kurchansky and Akhtanizovsky estuaries. And there is also the Myska (Miska) mud volcano.
After the war, many rushed to Taman, hoping to find jobs and protect themselves from hunger, because Azov gave a lot of fish, and the black soil of the steppe territory of the Kuban gave a rich harvest. At the same time, humus-gley soils lay near the estuaries and Azov itself, where they settled quite densely, and they also played a tragic role. The houses themselves, due to the lack of other materials, were built in sufficient quantities as in the old days: adobe and turluch huts, some of which have survived to this day.
On October 28, 1969, the deep silence of the calm was torn by the north-westerly wind (called “maistra”), the gusts of which reached 30-40 m / s. Thus, the returning water of the Azov Sea rushed to reclaim its lands, driven by a stormy wind. A few hours before the arrival of the wave on the coast, wires were cut and trees fell. It was already dark, and people, having returned home, were having supper and getting ready for bed. And at that moment, in pitch darkness, millions of cubic meters of sea water fell on the shore.
In a matter of hours, hundreds of houses were destroyed, roads were washed out, power lines collapsed, rails were twisted into an arc on some sections of railway tracks, part of the Temryuk fish canning factory was wiped off the face of the earth, the infrastructure of the Temryuk seaport was destroyed, launches and fishing trawlers were thrown onto land or drowned at the pier. The villages of Perekopka, Chaikino, Achuevo and Verbyanaya ceased to exist almost entirely. Only heaps of dirt remained from the adobe and tourist houses. The wave passed into the depths of the Taman land in some areas for 15 kilometers.
At the same time, the wicked irony of fate was that people who lived in houses located on the domed hills did not even know what was happening less than a hundred meters away. The impenetrable night howling with the wind became an accomplice of the sea element.
Subdivisions of the North Caucasus Military District were alerted
Even before dark, the units of the North Caucasian Military District were raised on alarm. Nobody, really, could not imagine what they would have to face. Tens and tens of kilometers of territory turned into a swamp, in which everything is mixed – people, living and dead, pets, livestock, twisted cars, remnants of buildings and so on. The humus-gley soil has become a viscous swamp.
The headquarters of the troops redeployed to the disaster area was located in Temryuk, where special equipment and aviation were quickly pulled together. The largest rescue operation in the entire history of the area began. Already in the morning a natural disaster zone was outlined: Slavyansky, Primorsko-Akhtarsky and Temryuk districts. The last one suffered the most. As Vladimir Runov later recalled, a journalist and writer, an eyewitness to those events, the author of the book “Shooting to kill”, he had never seen so many equipment and helicopters in the sky before those events.
Indeed, the Mi-1 and Mi-4 worked almost all day long. Many areas were simply not accessible by boat or amphibious vehicles. The pilots of the Soviet aviation spent hours peering into this filthy mess, hoping to see at least the silhouette of a man. They looked for both the living and the dead, although it was often difficult to distinguish one from the other in this dirty swamp. But the efforts of aviation alone were not enough.
Soon, special search teams were formed from soldiers and officers, working in conjunction with local guides. The fact is that many people were carried away by the wave to the floodplains, and some citizens, lovers of fishing and hunting, were there during the disaster. Of course, everyone hoped to find people alive, but deep down, everyone also understood that the teams, most likely, would only collect corpses. The floodplains of Taman are a flooded area with a depth of half a meter to two, overgrown with reeds.
In fact, the floodplains are real swampy reed jungle. The height of the reeds sometimes exceeds two meters, and their density resembles a solid wall. It is difficult to go deep into the smooth slopes even under optimal weather conditions, and without a guide who knows all the trails, it is dangerous to go there. After the riot of the elements, it seemed, it was possible to forget about the effective work of the search teams. However, in these difficult physical and, of course, psychological conditions, the soldiers of the North Caucasus Military District again and again crossed the length and breadth of the disastrous swamp, more often finding mutilated corpses, many of which were naked. The pressure of sea water, mixed with debris, was so strong that it ripped people’s clothes off.
All the rescued, as well as the corpses of the dead, were taken to the area of the Temryuk stadium. The picture was not for the faint of heart. Half-naked people covered from head to toe with mud on one side and lifeless mutilated corpses on the other. It is also worth pointing out that Temryuk himself was badly damaged, many streets were flooded.
The rescued were washed from dirt, provided first aid, dressed and fed with hot food. They tried to identify the corpses with the help of local residents. But in those conditions, it was a real hell. The soldiers had to be lined up in a human chain, since people who had lost their minds, distraught with grief, were rushing to the bodies. In order to prevent panic and a disastrous dump, the soldiers of the North Caucasus Military District had to keep citizens at a distance.
In parallel with the rescue of people, the issue of their placement was promptly resolved, since the end of October was already making itself felt by the cold and frost. The head of the headquarters for liquidation of the consequences of the disaster was the second secretary of the Temryuk district committee of the CPSU, Andrei Tsygankov. In cooperation with the military, temporary accommodation centers were quickly deployed, where beds and the necessary equipment were placed. For this purpose, two schools were used, a hotel, a palace of culture, a boarding school and a nursing home.
There was also an assessment of the prospects and the danger of flooded lands. And if the question of restoring a particular village was not so acute, then the question of epidemiological danger was raised on the very first day. Many residents kept cows and pigs, raised chickens, etc. Now the carcasses of animals were scattered everywhere. The troops urgently resettled thousands of people even from entire houses, since the territory was dangerous. Also, any trade in lard and meat in local markets was prohibited.
Recommended to forget
Assistance in the restoration of settlements, Temryuk itself, port infrastructure, a fish cannery and a fishing fleet was provided quickly and in full. The very next year, people who lost their homes received the keys to new apartments in houses built in an emergency mode in the center of Temryuk.
Oddly enough, but such a large-scale catastrophe is almost completely erased from memory. Even the exact number of the dead is unknown, most often the number 200 is mentioned. But it is far from the truth, since decayed corpses were found in the floodplains several months after the end of the rescue operation.
The paucity of facts and accurate data is largely due to the fact that the high authorities decided not to advertise the tragedy, limiting themselves to scanty notes in the local press. Vladimir Runov, already mentioned above, recalled how the filmed films were seized from him, and he himself was taken to the headquarters tent. No, no one threatened him, no one shook a pistol, they did not even take a nondisclosure agreement. On the contrary, Runov was thanked for his work, but asked not to talk about what he saw, since it was decided not to sow panic among the population with shocking personnel.
Indeed, in 1969 in the newspaper Sovetskaya Kuban, in the November issue, a laconic and short note was given:
“Workers, collective farmers and employees of a number of cities and villages of the Kuban, as well as soldiers of the Red Banner North Caucasian Military District, were involved in the rescue work. Immediately after the flood, many cars and tractors, helicopters, amphibians, boats and other technical equipment arrived in the coastal strip. Soldiers of the Soviet Army and civil aviation pilots displayed truly massive heroism. They have saved hundreds of local residents. “
The author does not dare to assert that the decision to downplay the scale of the disaster was completely wrong, given the modern media swagger in the form of gambling dances on the bones of victims of any disaster. However, due to the “short memory”, many of the heroes of that tragedy were unsung, the merits of the North Caucasian Military District, Soviet pilots and other rescue teams formed from the local police and party workers are almost forgotten. They surface only in little-known and rare memoir literature. In addition, the danger itself has been somewhat forgotten, therefore guest houses, recreation centers, hotels and boarding houses are now being built only 20-25 meters from the surf.