6.4 earthquake hits Albania, 20 dead

At least 20 people died in an earthquake in western Albania early Tuesday morning, according to authorities.

The 6.4 quake hit the Adriatic coastal city of Durres at 3.54 a.m. (0254GMT), said the country’s GeoSciences, Energy, Water, and Environment Institute.

One of the 20 casualties was a panicked person who jumped from a window, said the country’s Defense Ministry.

Hours later, at around 10.19 a.m. local time (0919GMT), a 5.4 earthquake hit Nevesinje in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, 71 kilometers (44 miles) south of the capital Sarajevo.

Later, Turkey’s state aid agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), delivered the first group of food packages and blankets to quake victims in Durres, and 500 food packages and 500 blankets were distributed to hundreds of families in the Thumane district.

The aid was reportedly the first to arrive from any country since the quake.

Turkey’s Ambassador in Tirana Murat Ahmet Yoruk said Turkey is preparing to send search and rescue and medical teams.

“We got in touch with Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency [AFAD] after meeting with the authorities of Tirana [Albania]. They’re preparing to send a search and rescue team as well as a medical team during the day,” Yoruk told Anadolu Agency.

“An AFAD search and rescue team, along with three vehicles and a National Medical Rescue Team [UMKE] from the Health Ministry, are traveling to Albania to support search and rescue operations after the 6.2 magnitude earthquake,” AFAD said on social media.

He added that about 300-500 buildings collapsed in Durres.

“Some Turkish citizens were staying in a hotel in the port city of Durres. The hotel collapsed, but they survived the disaster with minor injuries,” he said.

Yoruk also said the Turkish Embassy sent a vehicle to evacuate Turkish citizens from Durres, and added: “They are in good condition. Naturally, they are scared but we are expecting them at our embassy to rehabilitate them before returning to Turkey.”

The Turkish Red Crescent will also send two truckfuls of tents, blankets, and hygiene kits and eight disaster specialists.

The aid includes 120 tents that could accommodate 1,000 people, 2,500 blankets, and 1,000 hygiene parcels.

Turkish Red Crescent head Kerem Kinik said that they are following the situation closely.

“We’re in constant contact with the Albanian Red Cross. We have sent two trucks of emergency supplies with eight expert staffers,” said Kinik.

– Countries offer help in aftermath of quake

Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic offered help to Albania in a letter to President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama.

“It is difficult to anticipate such catastrophes and stop the relentless force of nature, but if Serbia can help in any way, we are ready to provide, within our means, every assistance in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

“We are sadly looking at pictures of the devastation in Durres and other places in Albania. Allow me to extend my sincere condolences to you and the families of the dead, as well as to express my sympathy for those who seek your loved ones,” said Vucic’s letter.

Albania will overcome the situation “with great friends,” Rama said on social media.

He also thanked leaders that offered help, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as countries such as North Macedonia, France, Montenegro, and Germany.

At least 600 people injured

The Albanian Health Ministry said at least 600 people were injured by the tremor.

The quake’s epicenter was 15 km (9 mi) off the coast of Durres, at a depth of 38 km (23 mi).

The Albanian Presidency announced that the country’s flags will fly at half-mast in memory of those who lost their lives in the quake.

The quake was felt in other cities of Albania, particularly the capital Tirana, and in neighboring countries of North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro.

It also caused communication problems and power cuts in Albania.

The country’s Education Ministry said schools were suspended due to security concerns.

On Sept. 21, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in the country left some 600 people injured and more than 600 buildings damaged.

* Writing by Fahri Aksut

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