The devastating Soviet earthquake struck Ashgabat and near by villages at 2:17 in the morning on 6 October 1948. The ground ruptured in Gara-Gaudan. Damage and casualties also occurred over the border in Darreh Gaz, Iran.
The epicentre of the earthquake was located near the small village of Gara-Gaudan, 25 kilometers south-west of Ashgabat.
Witnesses claimed at the time brick buildings collapsed and freight trains fell of the railway lines. The only infrastructure that survived was the mains water pipes.
The earthquake killed the mother and family of future Turkmen president Saparmurat Niyazov's ("His Excellency Saparmurat Türkmenbaşy, President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers") making him an orphan since his father had already died during World War II.
Electricity was restored after 6 days and the railway station began functioning by the third day. The emergency aid, medical help, and infrastructure repairs were provided by the Red Army.
Estimated casualties ranged from 10,000 to 176,000. A news release on 9 December 1988 advised that the correct death toll was 110,000, which is the equivalent to almost 10% of the Turkmen SSR's then population at the time. Finally a 2007 report by the State News Agency of Turkmenistan gives a total number of up to 176,000.