Albania was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck the country at 03:53 local time and caused at five two confirmed deaths, at least 150 injuries and enormous damages, with reports of the loss of 5 human lives, although there are fears the death toll will rise.
The earthquake was centered 10 kilometers northwest of the city of Shiak, between Durres and Tirana, according to the US Geodetic Institute (USGS), with a focal depth of 10 kilometers. This is the second strong vibration in two months and thousands of people have taken to the streets, some with infants in their hands.
According to a Reuters agency, a Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed that a 50-year-old man was killed in Kurbin when he panicked due to the earthquake and jumped off the balcony. According to Albanian Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu, there are at least 150 injured who have been taken to hospitals in the affected areas. “We are on high alert and on the side of the medical teams,” the minister said.
Another man was killed in a building that collapsed in Durres, emergency services officials told the Associated Press.
It is worth noting, however, that international media report larger numbers of injured people and also information about seven killed people. Rescue operations for dozens of trapped are also under way.
According to Eleni Pappa, a journalist from Argyrokastro who spoke on Thema Radio 104.6, there are reports of at least three dead.
The earthquake caused extensive damage to Tirana, Durres, Fieri and Lezia. Most of the buildings that collapsed are in Durres and Tirana. Damaged buildings, however, also have been reported within a radius of about 150 kilometers: from Lezia in the north to Fieri in the south. So far it has been reported that eight apartment buildings have collapsed in Durres and the outskirts of Tirana.
On the other hand, the panic proved to be the worst advisor for the inhabitants of the earthquake-stricken areas, while the lack of state infrastructure is not helping the situation.
Greek rescue teams rush to aid Albania
Greece’s response to the Albanian government’s request for assistance was immediate.
The request was made through the European Civil Protection Mechanism for help due to the strong earthquake.
Forty rescuers and a dog travel to Albania
As it became known from the General Secretariat for Civil Protection, two EMAK teams with equipment from Athens and Ioannina are leaving at this time to assist the Albanian Authorities in rescue work.
In particular, twenty-five members of the 1st EMAK with a trained dog departed from Athens with a C130 military aircraft, while another 15 members of the 5th EMAK have departed from Ioannina with vehicles and special equipment.
At the same time, Greece has stated that it is at the disposal of the Albanian Authorities for the dispatch of scientific staff or any other assistance it may require. The Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Dendias, will also travel to Albania in the afternoon.