More than 600 people were reportedly injured in the aftermath, which sent buildings toppling to the ground

By Rachel DeSantis
November 26, 2019 02:54 PM
Building in Thumane

At least 21 people were killed and hundreds more injured after Albania was struck by its largest earthquake in decades.

The 6.4-magnitude quake happened just before dawn, and sent apartment buildings, hotels and more tumbling to the ground, largely in the towns of Durres and Thumane, the Associated Press reported.

In Durres — a coastal town about 25 miles from the country’s capital of Tirana — three hotels, a residential villa and an apartment building reportedly all came down.

The town was also the site of at least one successful rescue mission: that of a young boy, who was pulled out from under a concrete slap with help from an excavator, the AP reported.

A total of 43 people were reportedly rescued from the rubble of various buildings as of Tuesday evening.

Thumane, Albania

Durres’ soccer stadium quickly became a shelter of sorts for displaced people, President Ilir Meta wrote on Twitter.

“We are afraid to go back to our apartment,” Bukuri Morina, who spent the night in the stadium, told Reuters. “There are cracks all over and we are afraid that we will have the same destiny as people in Thumane.”

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Thumane — 26 miles from Durres — was also largely hit, and the AP reported that seven people died there after an apartment building collapsed.

“A dramatic situation in Thumane!” President Meta tweeted. “We hope to overcome it with the least loss! We must do every attempt to save the people stuck under the ruins! Solidarity and help to anyone in need!”

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Marjana Gjoka, 48, was asleep in her fourth-floor apartment in Thumane when the quake shook the five-story building.

“The roof collapsed on our head and I don’t know how we escaped,” she told Reuters. “God helped us.”

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Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said more than 600 people were treated for injuries, and nine were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, the AP reported.

Thumane, Albania
Visar Kryeziu/AP/Shutterstock

“It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calm, [and] stay alongside each other to cope with this shock,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said, according to the outlet.

The Washington Post reported that the earthquake originated just 12 miles underground, and that its shallow depth caused more damage, since the waves had less time to lose energy before they reached the surface.

Wednesday was reportedly declared an official day of mourning by the Albanian government, and all flags were to fly at half-staff.