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Worst earthquake hits Albania

Posted November. 28, 2019 07:36,   

Updated November. 29, 2019 15:00


“I can talk to my daughter over the phone. She is trapped but alive in a collapsed apartment building. She asked for a quick rescue,” a resident in Durrës, a port city in Albania on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, urgently asked for help on Tuesday. Reuters and other media reported that the residents of Albania are joining rescue operations after the worst earthquake in 93 years hit the country.

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck 34 kilometers north-west of the capital, Tirana, at 3:54 a.m. on Tuesday, causing at least 23 deaths and 650 injuries. Albania located on the earthquake belt of the Mediterranean Sea experienced a 5.8 magnitude quake two months ago. The repeated earthquakes weakened the steel structure of buildings, which led to the collapse of several hundreds of buildings as a result of the Tuesday quake.

Rescue workers have been continuing their work to save survivors trapped under rubble while residents also joined to remove debris with bare hands. Their efforts led to the rescue of over 50 people in Tirana and Thumane. Albanian President Ilir Meta visited Thumane, which experienced devastating damage due to its proximity to the epicenter, and encouraged joint rescue efforts to overcome the situation.

Other European countries also extended help with Italy, Greece, Romania, and Serbia sending rescue teams and France and Turkey deploying special troops. According to an interview with The Guardian, Greek seismologist Ethymios Lekkas predicted that the damage was likely to be “extensive” because so many buildings in the poverty-stricken country were “in such bad shape.” He also added, “For sure we will have an aftershock in the order of 5.9 [on the Richter scale] in the next hours, or days.”

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com