The Aftermath of Albania’s Largest Earthquake in 30 Years

Yesterday’s earthquake left over 100 people injured,  500 houses and 100 apartment buildings damaged, with hundreds more people spending the night outside, too fearful to return to their homes. No human deaths were reported.

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the central coastal city of Durres yesterday at about 4 p.m. local time, with major shocks felt in capital Tirana, 35km east of the Adriatic coast.

A 5.3-magnitude aftershock followed few minutes later, followed by a 4.8 magnitude shock after midnight, and a 4.4 magnitude quake at around 2.30. As many as 200 aftershocks were registered in the aftermath, as of the time of writing.

Structural damage included large cracks in the sides of buildings, fallen air conditioning units, chunks of masonry breaking away, crushed cars, and broken items inside people’s homes.

At the vet hospital Tirana, a number of animals were admitted after the quake due to them panicking and jumping from balconies and open windows. Several had died and others remained in critical conditions.

Prime Minister Edi Rama cancelled a trip to the UN annual meeting in New York, and held an emergency cabinet meeting at midnight. He ordered urgent measures to be taken in identifying all damages and providing shelter to those that were left unable to return home, as well as for all Socialist Party MPs to visit people affected by the quake. Today Rama himself visited some of the hospitalized people in Tirana.

The opposition leader Lulzim Basha called for social solidarity to overcome the situation.

President Ilir Meta visited Durres today, where he also called for caution and solidarity.

The Ministry of Health announced that only a dozen of the 105 people seeking medical assistance yesterday where still hospitalized today.

The Ministry of Defense stated that over 500 houses and 100 apartment building suffered damages of different scale, and that it was the most powerful earthquake to hit Albania in the last 30 years.

A 4.4-magniture earthquake hit the southeastern city of Korça in June, with hundreds of families pushed to find shelter in tents and public facilities.

In late July, President Meta drew the attention of Prime Minister Edi Rama and Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka to the fact that Albania is an earthquake-prone area, and asked what measures the government had in place in preparation for a major earthquake.

Exit journalist Alice Taylor was at home with her young baby when the quake hit.

“It sounded like a large explosion at first, then I saw the sides of the room moving and the floor snaking up and down. I grabbed my baby, my phone and keys and ran out of the apartment. When the second quake hit, I moved into Sheshi Wilson, away from all the large buildings. A kind family gave me a blanket and some diapers for my baby and got me some milk for her from the shop as I had left my wallet and everything in my house. We didn’t return home last night as were fearful of aftershocks.”

You can find information of what to do in case of another earthquake, here.