By Anush Dashtents
Armenia sent on Friday two teams of doctors and medicines to Georgia after it was struck on Thursday by its worst earthquake in 40 years.
The doctors rushed to Tbilisi with a special "working group" of seismologists, emergency workers and other government officials formed by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian to assess the damage caused by the disaster and coordinate possible Armenian assistance.
The death toll from the earthquake measuring between 5 and 6 on the Richter scale rose to five on Friday morning when a woman died from injuries in a Tbilisi hospital.
Two of the dead -- a woman and her 18-year-old son -- were said to be ethnic Armenians. Van Bayburt, a leader of the local Armenian community, told RFE/RL that they died together as they were leaving a ground-floor shop at the Armenian-populated Havlabar district in the old town.
"I thought we would all die, too," another Tbilisi Armenian, Susanna Harutiunian, told the Associated Press. Harutiunian lost a brother in the 1988 catastrophic earthquake in northern Armenia that killed 25,000 people. She and her family sought refuge Thursday night in a bus.
The Georgian capital bore the brunt of the tremors, with considerable damage reportedly inflicted on old buildings in the city's historical center. Power lines to the city, disrupted by the quake, were restored overnight.
According to the Armenian National Seismic Defense Service (ANSDS), the epicenter of the earthquake was 15 kilometers southeast of Tbilisi, and minor tremors were felt in northern regions of Armenia close to the Georgian border.
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian spoke with his Georgian counterpart, Avtandil Jorbenadze, by phone to offer condolences to families of the victims and assistance. Following the conversation Markarian called an emergency meeting of senior officials from the ministries of energy, health and urban development as well as the department of emergency situations and the ANSDS.
Markarian's press office said Yerevan received a request from the head of the Georgian government's emergencies department, Otar Tavelishvili, to send drugs for dozens of people hospitalized with serious injuries.
Earthquakes are common in Georgia and other Caucasus mountainous countries, which lie on a seismically active zone. In January, an earthquake of 3.5 magnitude centered near Tbilisi shook the city but caused no damage or injuries. A quake there two weeks ago reached magnitude 5 and likewise caused no casualties.