On December 7th, 1988 Armenia was hit with a powerful 7.2 earthquake destroying the city of Spitak and 58 villages. Such cities as Leninakan, Stepanavan, Kirovakan, as well as other 300 villages, were partially destroyed. The earthquake killed at least 25,000 people; 514,000 lost their homes.
Geologists and earthquake engineering experts laid the blame on the poorly built support structures of apartments and other buildings built during the 'stagnation' era of Leonid Brezhnev. The Soviet Union was harshly criticized for its inability to carry out rescue operations. The country was not ready for a catastrophe of this kind.
It's been over 20 years since the deadly tremor, however, a lot of Armenian people still have to live in temporary metal structures called 'small houses'.