Albania hit by 6.4-magnitude earthquake, killing at least 4, injuring 150

Albania hit by 6.4-magnitude earthquake, killing at least 4, injuring 150

ROME — Albania was struck early Tuesday by its strongest earthquake in decades, killing at least seven and injuring 300 according to the Associated Press, raising fears that more people might be buried under the rubble.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.4-magnitude earthquake caused tremors throughout the Balkans into southern Italy. Its epicenter was along Albania’s western coast, just north of the port city of Durrës. The earthquake came just before 4 a.m. local time and originated from a fairly shallow depth, just 12 miles underground. Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones, because their waves lose less energy before reaching the surface.

The Associated Press said that three apartment buildings had fallen during the night and it was unknown how many people might be trapped.

Citing Albania’s Defense Ministry, the AP said that one person who lived 30 miles north of the capital, Tirana, died after jumping from his home in an attempt to escape. According to Reuters, two other women were found in the rubble of an apartment building in the town of Thumanë.

Albania’s president, Ilir Meta, said on Twitter that the situation was “dramatic” in that town, and that everything must be done to save people “stuck under the ruins.”

A government spokesman said that more than 300 people have received medical help at hospitals in Tirana and Durrës.

Three aftershocks, with magnitudes between 5.1 and 5.4, followed in the aftermath of the initial quake. Another earthquake, with a recorded magnitude of 5.4, was reported to the north in Bosnia.

“Our country was hit by a wave of earthquakes like never before in the darkness of the early hours of today!” Meta said in a statement. “It is important to work with dedication and professionalism to save every human life under the rubble of buildings and to help the injured. It is important to identify residents who cannot return to their homes and who need housing.”

Italy and Greece were among the countries offering to assist in the rescue work.

Albania is one of Europe’s poorest countries and has been in long discussions to join the European Union.

It is the second time in two months that Albania has been hit by a significant earthquake. In September, a 5.6-magnitude tremor hit roughly the same area and caused dozens of injuries. It was said to be Albania’s most powerful earthquake in 30 years.

Read More