On 26 November 2019, in the early hours of the morning, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck central Albania with the epicentre in Durres. It resulted in 51 deaths, over 750 injuries, the collapse of some 10 buildings, and the damage of hundreds more.
Those that lost their lives, did so after apartment blocks collapsed in Durres and Thumane. One year, on, in memory of those that lost their lives, Exit brings an overview of those who died and the circumstances in which it occurred.
1. Four-storey building, former marsh area, Durrës
A four-storey building in the area of the former marsh in Durrës, owned by an extended family of parents and three brothers. It was originally built in 1999 as a one-and-a-half-storey building but had been extended over the years to four floors.
The building suffered severe structural damage from the quake, but initially remained standing albeit in a delicate condition. Seven people who were in the building at the time of the quake remained stuck inside it, unable to get out because the movement risked the collapse of the building.
Rescuers could not find a way to evacuate them and around 11:00 a.m. The villa then collapsed, burying those inside in rubble.
The mother, a disabled and unmarried adult son, and the families of two other boys — two wives and five children — lived in the apartment, while the boys themselves were emigrants, one in Greece and the other in Italy. Except for the two brothers in emigration, and the wife of one of them who was in Tirana, all the other family members were in the building at the time of the earthquake.
Only the son of one of the brothers, 18-year-old Ramë Lala, was rescued alive from the rubble and sent to Italy to be treated for serious injuries.
Everyone else lost their lives and their bodies were exhumed after more than 50 hours from the rubble.
- Sadete Lala – 79 years old, mother of three sons
- Ilir Lala – 53 years old, son of Sadeta, paralyzed
- Marjeta Lala – 31 years old, Sadeta’s wife, mother of 4 children
- Dionis Lala – 2 years old, Marjeta’s son
- Dionisa Lala – 2 years old, Dinosis’s twin, Marjeta’s daughter
- Amelia Lala – 6 years old, Marjeta’s daughter
- Emilio Lala – 9 years old, Marjeta’s son
- Griselda Lala – 15 years old, daughter of Sadeta’s other son
2. Residential building, Lagjia 18, Durrës
A six-storey building in neighbourhood 18 in Durrës, near the Red Cross building, collapsed. The block was a side addition to another apartment block that was built in 1994.
Seven people from two families lost their lives in its ruins. The head of the family, Ajet Meçaj, was rescued alive from the Meçaj-Karanxha family. His daughter Diena Karanxha (Meçaj) was also pulled alive from the rubble but died a few hours later in hospital. Four years ago she had lost her husband.
- Roza Meçja – 59 years old, Ajeti’s wife
- Diena Karanxha (Meçja) – 30 years old, daughter of Roza and Ajeti
- Esiela Karanxha – 8 years old, Diena’s daughter
No one from the Reçi family survived.
- Eduart Reçi – 54 years old
- Dolora Reçi – 49 years old, Eduart’s wife
- Klaus Reçi – 21 years old, son of Eduart and Dolora
- Kristi Reçi – 24 years old, daughter of Eduart and Dolora
3. Residential building, Neighborhood 6, Durrës
A six-storey building in the area known as Dy Gjelat in Neighborhood 6, Durrës lost the first two floors, but miraculously, the top floors did not disintegrate.
It is thought that the cause of the collapse of the first floor was illegal interventions in the supporting structure of the palace for the creation of a bar/cafe.
The collapse killed two elderly women living on the first floor of the palace.
- Nafije Rexhepi – 74 years old
- Xhulieta Gjanaj – 60 years old
4. Kavaleshenca Building, Durrës
A building in the Kavaleshenca complex of the Ministry of Interio in the beach area in Durrës partially collapsed. The building was built in 2001 and was the newest part of the complex. The Ministry has not provided any public information on the circumstances and extent of the damage.
A police commissioner, a lecturer at the Ministry of Interior Security Academy, was killed in the collapse.
- Bajram Hajdarmataj – 54 years old
5. Tropical Hotel, Durrës
Hotel Tropikal, a four-storey building in the beach area of Durrës, was built in 1996, initially as an informal two-storey building, but then two additional floors were built.
It collapsed completely with the first earthquake. Two brothers from Kosovo died under the rubble.
- Isa Abazi – 24 years old
- Shemsedin Abazi – 39 years old
6. Hotel Vila Palma, Durrës
Hotel Palma, a seven-storey building in the Kavaja Rock area, was originally designed and built in 2001 as a three-storey building. In the following years, four additional floors were added to the building.
The building collapsed completely at the time of the earthquake.
The mother and son of the hotel owner were rescued alive from the rubble of the hotel but his father lost his life.
- Sadik Qato – 85 years old
7. Hotel Mira Mare, Durrës
The Mira Mare Hotel, a six-storey building by the sea at the beginning of the beach area in Durrës, collapsed from the first earthquake. The building was designed and erected as a 2-storey building but in 1999 more floors were added to make it a 6-storey building.
Adriatik Boçi came out of its ruins alive, and two people lost their lives; a girl who worked as a ballerina and a boy who worked as a bartender.
- Eviola Broshka – 28 years old
- Sotiraq Misha – 41 years old
- Flara Zenela – 64 years old
8. Three residential buildings, Thumanë
In Thumana three apartment blocks were completely demolished. They were built during the communist years with prefabricated technology.
One of the palaces was declared uninhabitable by the inspection made after the September 21 earthquake. It is not known why after this fact, the palace was not evacuated by residents. There are other sources claiming that since 2010 there have been inspections that had raised the alarm about the danger of these buildings.
Because all three buildings in Thumana were residential buildings, many casualties occurred within the few families.
The Cara family
The two Cara families lived in the same building, one on the first floor and the other on the fifth floor. Of the nine family members, only one survived, the head of the family Albert Cara. He was brought out of the rubble and operated on at the Trauma Hospital. His uncle’s daughter, too, was pulled alive from the rubble but later died in hospital. Albert’s son, Hasan, had his 18th birthday the day he died.
24. Fatmira Cara – Alber’s wife
25. Hasan Cara – 18 years old, son of Fatmira and Albert
26. Erisa Cara – 25 years old, daughter of Fatmira and Albert
27. Almir Cara – son of Fatmira and Albert
28. Stela Cara – E Almir’s fiancée
29. Anthi Cara – wife of Albert’s uncle
30. Lindita Cara – daughter of Anthi, daughter of Albert’s uncle (rescued, in hospital).
31. Sadajana Cara – daughter of Lindita Cara
The Cupi family
The two sons of the Çupi family had come from emigration to their parents to celebrate an engagement. The eldest, Clement, lost his life after being trapped for 17 hours with a mass of concrete on his lower body, while communicating all the time with the rescue troops. He died of hemorrhage before he could be pulled out of the rubble. His brother, Alex, who was to be engaged the next day, survived.
32. Hajredin Çupi – 66 years old
33. Lutfie Çupi – 55 years old, Hajredin’s wife
34. Klement Çupi – 34 years old, son of Hajredin and Lutfie
The son of the Greg family was pulled alive from the rubble but he later died at the hospital.
35. Pëllumb Gregu— 57 years old
36. Çelike Gregu – 57 years old, Pëllumbi’s wife
37. Saimir Gregu – 31 years old, son of Pëllumbi and Çelike
The Cuka family
All members living in the apartment lost their lives.
38. Sardi Cuka – 18 years old
39. Fatmira Cuka – 44 years old
The Cakoni family
All members living in the apartment lost their lives.
40. Kastriot Cakoni – 58 years old
41. Drita Cakoni – 15 years old, daughter of Kastritoti
The Leka family
42. Bukurije Leka – 80 years old
43. Hajrie Vata – 65 years old
44. Rolejt Vata – 7 years old, Hajrie’s grandson
The Kabili family
The two parents managed to escape but their daughter died.
45. Adelina Kabili – 20 years old, their daughter.
The Lala family
46.Selvie Lala – 74 years old
47. Ariela Lala – 5 years old, Selvie’s granddaughter.
Kristian Preçi lost his life in a car accident in Kurbin . He was injured by the earthquake and lost control of the car going to the hospital for treatment. Also, 32-year-old Ersid Hoxholli was thrown from the balcony during the earthquake in Kurbin.
51. Jessica Biqiku, 20 years old (died at the Trauma Hospital, a brick fell off the corner of a building in Kombinat).
Article written on November 29, 2019, republished on November 26, 2020, in memory of the earthquake victims.