Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Albania earthquake: rescuers search rubble after most powerful tremor in decades

The strongest earthquake to hit Albania in decades rocked the capital of Tirana early on Tuesday, sending panicked residents into the streets and causing at least one building to collapse in the nearby port town of Durres.
The 6.4-magnitude quake struck shortly before 4am local time, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, the second powerful tremor to hit the region in two months. It was centred 10km (six miles) north-west of Shijak, between Durres and the capital, at a depth of just 10km, the USGS said.
Unverified video footage posted on social media showed what appeared to be a collapsed building in Durres, 40km west of Tirana, on the Adriatic coast. Other footage showed buildings with large cracks and fallen masonry, including one apartment with most of a bedroom wall missing.
Firefighters and the military were helping residents caught under the rubble in Durres and the nearby village of Thumane, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.
Two government spokesmen said the worst damage to buildings was in Durres and a few people had been taken to hospital in Tirana. Asked about loss of life, an interior ministry spokesman said: “I am told there is not any.”

One witness described residents fleeing apartment buildings in Tirana, some carrying babies. Power was down in several neighbourhoods.
Located between Greece and Macedonia, Albania experiences regular seismic activity.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 shook the country on 21 September, damaging about 500 houses and destroying others. The defence ministry had said that was the most powerful quake in Albania in the last 30 years.
The Balkan nation is the poorest country in Europe, with an average income of less than a third of the European Union average, according to Eurostat data.

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