In Depth

Albania rocked by strongest earthquake in decades

Rescue workers continue to pull people from rubble after magnitude 6.4 quake

At least 14 people have died and hundreds have been injured after a strong earthquake struck Albania in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The quake is the strongest felt in Albania in decades and caused the collapse of dozens of buildings in the west of the country, including in the seaside city of Durres.

Some residents are thought to still be trapped under the rubble in places, with Albanian President Ilir Meta stating that “all efforts are being done to take people out of the ruins”, reports The Guardian.

What happened?

The magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck shortly before 4am local time (3am GMT) on Tuesday around 19 miles west of the capital Tirana, at a shallow depth of 12.4 miles according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

According to authorities, three people were killed in Thumane, the 12,000-population town closest to the epicentre, while the bodies of four other victims were pulled from the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Durres.

One man is understood to have died in the town of Kurbin after jumping out of a building, Al Jazeera reports, while another confirmed victim died in an accident on a road cut off by debris in north-western Lezhe, the Guardian adds.

At least five more bodies are understood to have been discovered, although it is not yet known where they died.

Located along the Adriatic coast, Albania experiences regular seismic activity, suffering a 5.6 magnitude earthquake on 21 September, which damaged hundreds of homes.

This week’s earthquake is thought to have been the strongest in the country since 1979, when a magnitude 6.9 quake left 136 dead and more than 1,000 injured, says the BBC.

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What has the response been?

Emergency services have been working to pull people from the collapsed buildings, and at least 150 people wounded during the earthquake are being treated in hospitals in Tirana and Durres, Al Jazeera says.

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Tuesday that neighbouring countries - including Kosovo - and the European Union had offered immediate support. The European Commission has also offered assistance.

According to the Guardian, a series of aftershocks were felt throughout the Balkans, Italy and Greece in the wake of the incident, while in nearby Bosnia a separate earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 “struck south-east of the capital and rattled Sarajevo”. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

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