Time in Yerevan: 11:07:36,   24 January

Prime Minister holds meeting with celebrated retired finswimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan

YEREVAN, JULY 18, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a meeting today with Shavarsh Karapetyan, the renowned retired finswimming champion who is best known for saving the lives of 20 people in a 1976 incident in Yerevan.

“I am happy to see you more often in Yerevan, this is our second meeting in the past three months,” the Prime Minister said, expressing hope that from now on Karapetyan’s ties with his homeland will be stronger.

In turn, Karapetyan wished success and good luck to Pashinyan’s government for the benefit of Armenia and the Armenian people. “We would like for the victory which you won to be the victory of the entire Armenian people. We are all trying to be part of the prospering of the homeland,” Shavarsh Karapetyan said, adding that there are many Armenians in Russia – his current place of residence- willing to be involved in the development of Armenia and in the administration system.

The PM said his office will look into each and every application.

Shavarsh Karapetyan, Merited Master of Sports of the USSR, ten-time finswimming World Record-breaker, is better known for an incident which occurred on September 16, 1976. On that day, Karapetyan was jogging with his brother alongside the Yerevan Lake, when suddenly a trolleybus crashed into it.

The trolleybus lay at the bottom of the lake some 25 metres (80 ft) offshore at a depth of 10 metres (33 ft).Karapetyan swam to it and, despite conditions of almost zero visibility, due to the silt rising from the bottom, broke the back window with his legs. The trolleybus was overcrowded, it carried 92 passengers and Karapetyan knew he had little time, spending some 30 to 35 seconds for each person he saved

Karapetyan managed to rescue 20 people (he picked up more, but 20 of them survived), but this ended his sports career: the combined effect of cold water and the multiple lacerations from glass shards, left him unconscious for 45 days. Subsequent sepsis, due to the presence of raw sewage in the lake water, and lung complications prevented him from continuing his sports career.

 He was involved in a similar incident two days earlier from the Yerevan Lake accident, when he stopped a bus from crashing into a gorge, saving more than 30 people.

The main belt asteroid 3027 Shavarsh, in 1978 discovered by Nikolai Chernykh at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, was named after him.

Oddly enough, he saved multiple lives again in 1985, when he just happened to be near a burning building that had people trapped inside. He rushed in and started pulling people out together with firefighters. Once again, he was badly hurt (severe burns) and spent a long time in the hospital.

Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan

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