Previously he was Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (2003–2006), Ambassador to Canada (1998–2003), Ambassador to Belgium and Liaison Ambassador to NATO and WEU (1994–1998), Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation to the talks on Former Yugoslavia (1992–1994), Director of the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR/Russian Federation (1990–1992). Churkin was fluent in English, French and Mongolian.
About 32,900 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Immediately after the earthquake, 35,000 families were without shelter. The economic losses are believed to have been as high as two billion US dollars though the sum was not confirmed by the authorities at that time. A detailed report on the destruction the earthquake caused was never published. Most of the damage was concentrated in Romania's capital, Bucharest, where about 33 large buildings collapsed. Most of those buildings were built before World War II, and were not reinforced. After the earthquake, the Romanian government imposed tougher construction standards.
A few days later he managed to leave Romania and arrived in Austria with the help of a falsified invitation (received during the Braşov festival and having as its initial destination Poland). He spent some time at the Traiskirchen refugee camp, where he was discovered by Radio Free Europe director Noël Bernard. After getting his official documents in order, he continued his activity in Munich, in RFE's Romanian-language section. He re-launched Metronom, Jazz magazin and started a third show, Jazz à la carte. At first, Chiriac used his microphone to express the anger he felt against those who had hindered his work at Radio România. Ioana Măgură Bernard later recalled: "Often, after doing something without thinking, Cornel had such problems with the German authorities and with the American heads of RFE that he was almost kicked out of Germany and off radio". Later, according to Noël Bernard, "he realised that not politics but music was his calling". Until his death, his musical activity was rich, and included a Romanian translation of the rock operaJesus Christ Superstar.
On March 4, 1975, near midnight, Chiriac was stabbed near his car, in a Munich parking lot. An hour later, a female student returning home found him. The first suspect to be arrested was 17-year-old Mario Gropp, the last person seen with Chiriac that evening. In Romania there was talk of a political assassination committed by the Securitate. Chiriac's body was cremated in Munich and his ashes brought back to Romania by his mother. He is buried in Bucharest's Reînvierea Cemetery.