Saturday, September 21, 2019

Albania earthquake: Cars crushed and people run into streets after 5.6 tremor

About 50 people were injured by falling items or debris as Albania was hit by its strongest quake in decades

Homes collapsed, terrified residents ran into the streets and about 50 people were hurt as Albania was rocked by its strongest earthquake in 30 years.

Cars were crushed by falling bricks in the capital Tirana - where two tremors were felt in quick succession - and buildings were badly damaged in the coastal town of Durres, close to the epicentre.
Residents told of scenes of "panic" and "chaos" as the 5.6 magnitude tremor - also felt in Italy and Greece - shook homes, knocked items off shelves, cut power and telephone service, and damaged a football stadium during a match.
Durres resident Franko Gjordeni, whose flat and belongings were damaged, told Mirror Online: "My apartment was about to collapse the second time.
"It was a miracle my building withstood that. These buildings are not made to survive this kind of earthquake."
The moderate tremor hit at about 4pm local time and was centred about 20 miles west of the capital Tirana, but it was felt across the Adriatic Sea in Italy, in neighbouring countries such as Greece and as far east as Bulgaria.
Local reports said about 50 people - including many children - were injured by falling items or debris when the tremor hit at a depth of about six miles.
Dozens of homes reportedly collapsed in Helmes, about six miles from the capital, where bricks fell from a building and crushed cars at the geology department at the University of Tirana.
People posted photos of large cracks that made it appear like blocks of flats had been split in half.
Other photos showed people crying or hugging in the streets after fleeing their homes.
Mr Gjordeni, 21, said "chaos was spreading in the streets" as panicked locals gathered outside fearing strong aftershocks.
He shared photos showing tea cups and glassware that fell off a TV stand and shattered on the floor, and images of dozens of residents gathered in a car park after fleeing their homes.
He added: "When the first one hit people were a bit scared but still stayed at there homes, when the second one hit everyone rushed outside.
"I even saw people tripping on the stairs trying to get outside as soon as possible.
"It's not like this is an every day thing, that's why when the first time the earthquake hit people just disregarded it."
Carolyn Perry, a British lecturer who lives in Durres, said she stood in a doorway as the quake shook her building and knocked out power.
The Londoner, who takes tour groups around archaeological and historic sites in Albania, told Mirror Online: "I knew what it was immediately as we had a weaker quake last year, but this one went on for what seemed like quite a few seconds.
"I went to stand in a doorway to be safe and could hear the glasses clinking in my cabinet.
"The apartment block was really moving - I’m on the fifth floor.
"I could hear people going down the stairs and so as soon as it stopped I grabbed a torch - the building had temporarily lost power - and made my way out.
"Quite a few people were outside on the pavement, but everyone was calm.
"We then had a small aftershock, so people moved further from the tall buildings for a few minutes. Most people are back inside now."
Selman Stermasi Stadium in Tirana was damaged during a football match and large stones tumbled down Kavaje Rock - where Caesar is said to have fought Pompey during a civil war in 48BC - as it suffered a partial collapse.
Twitter users told how they were left shaken following the earthquake.
One woman wrote: "These earthquakes in Albania need to stop.
"We have 3 months in this condition. Lol this one was terrifying."
Another woman added: "I could have done without the 5.8 earthquake this afternoon.
"Residents all out in the street now, waiting to see (or should I say feel) if there are more aftershocks before we go back inside."
A man wrote: "Omfg! Just experienced an earthquake twice in Tirana, Albania!
"The whole ground and walls were shaking.
"It says online that its magnitude was 5.6 and more aftershocks to be expected."
And another man added: "My 7th floor appartment in Tirana was swinging left and right for like 20 seconds.
"Quite some panic around town. Reportedly the biggest earthquake in Albania in 30 years."
In the aftermath, Prime Minister Edi Rama cancelled his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York and was on his way back to Albania to assess the damage.
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