Wed, Nov 27, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Albania quake toll rises, hundreds hurt

SHAKEN REGION:The earthquake, felt across the southern Balkans, was followed by several aftershocks, one of which struck southeast of Sarajevo at a magnitude of 5.4

AFP, TIRANA

Nine people died and more than 600 were injured in Albania after the strongest earthquake in decades rocked the Balkan country early yesterday, destroying buildings and burying victims in rubble.

The epicenter of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake was about 34km northwest of Tirana at a depth of 10 km, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said.

The earthquake was felt across the southern Balkans and was followed by multiple aftershocks.

In nearby Bosnia, another temblor with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 struck southeast of the capital, Sarajevo. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in that earthquake.

Greece and Kosovo promised to help with rescuers in Albania.

“We have victims,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Twitter.

The government is “working to do everything possible in the affected areas.” Rama added.

The earthquake struck at 3:54am and sent panicked residents running out onto the streets of Tirana, with people huddling in the open, one correspondent said.

The worst damage appeared to be around the coastal town of Durres.

The earthquake was the strongest to hit the region since 1926, Albanian seismologist Rrapo Ormeni told a local TV station.

Four bodies were pulled from the ruins of damaged buildings in the port town, where a three-story hotel collapsed and other buildings were damaged, the Albanian Ministry of Defense said, adding that three bodies were uncovered in rubble in the nearby town of Thumane.

A man in his 50s died after he jumped out of his building in panic in the town of Kurbin, while a man died in a car accident after the earthquake tore open parts of a road, it added.

About 300 military personnel have rushed to Durres and Thumane for rescue operations, where “there are people trapped under the ruins,” ministry spokeswoman Albana Qahajaj said.

In Thumane, about a dozen rescuers used an excavator to dig through a mountain of debris in search of possible victims.

At least 600 people with injuries have sought first aid, Albanian Minister of Health and Social Care Ogerta Manasterliu said.

In Thumane, soldiers, rescuers and families were sifting through the rubble of a collapsed five-story building as cries of people trapped under debris were heard, one reporter said.

Thoma Nika, a 58-year-old who lived in the building, said there were at least six people under the rubble.

Another man, Arben Allushi, said with tears in his eyes that his wife and niece were missing after the building collapsed.

A man in Durres told a local TV station that his daughter and niece were trapped in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building.

“I talked with my daughter and niece on the phone. They said they are well and are waiting for the rescue. I could not talk to my wife. There are other families, but I could not talk to them,” the man said.

It was described by authorities as the strongest earthquake in the last 20 to 30 years.

Additional reporting by AP

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