The biggest earthquake in decades – Pray for Albania
Albania has been hit by a powerful nighttime 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday morning, causing several buildings to collapse. The quake lasted for about a minute. This has killed over 25 people and injured 600 more (equivalent to a war). There are still people under ruins. Authorities said rescue work was “extremely difficult.”
The earthquake hit shortly before 4 a.m. as people slept. Witnesses reported buildings partially collapsing around them as they woke up.
The epicenter was 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of Shijak, between Durres and the capital, Tirana, at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the US Geological Survey.
A man in his 50s was killed while jumping out of a building during the tremor, according to officials. Others were killed in building collapses in the coastal city of Durres and Thumane. One of those killed was an elderly woman who saved her grandson by protecting him with her body.
The Albanian government declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims. Neighboring Kosovo, which has a large Albanian population, will also recognize Wednesday as a mourning day.
Hours later, a magnitude 5.2 quake shook parts of southern Bosnia, around 75 kilometers (45 miles) south the capital, Sarajevo, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
Rescue crews in Albania used excavators to search collapsed buildings for survivors. Local television broadcast footage of rescuers pulling a young boy from a collapsed building after an excavator moved a broken slab of concrete and people pulled mangled reinforcement bars out of the way. It was not immediately clear how many people were still under the rubble.
One of Vlora’s firefighters, Luan Kapaj, sacrificed his life for the salvation of people who were under the rubble.
Neighboring Kosovo also was sending an emergency team to help with rescue efforts, while the European Union and the United States both offered immediate support.
Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Turkey, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia were all sending rescue assistance.
About 400 Albanian soldiers were erecting tents in two towns to shelter people with damaged houses.
Tuesday’s quake is the second to hit the country in two months.
National police warned people in affected areas to avoid driving so emergency services could reach victims, but also to stay out of buildings for fear of further collapses in aftershocks.
Three hours after the initial tremor, a strong aftershock was felt in Tirana.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said all government agencies were “intensively working to save lives at the fatal spots in Durres and Thumane.”
“It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calmness, stay alongside each other to cope with this shock,” Rama wrote on his Facebook page.
Different churches and organizations are collecting food and clothes for those in need and much more are offering their homes for those who have lost theirs. Some families from Durres are now in Kosovo, but there are still other families sleeping in their cars or tents.
A 5.6 magnitude earthquake had hit Albania, also in September, damaging about 500 houses and destroying others.