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article imageAlbania mourns as earthquake search for survivors continues

By AFP     Nov 27, 2019 in Environment

Albania was in national mourning Wednesday as emergency workers continued to pull bodies from the ruins of buildings gutted by a violent earthquake, with nearly 30 found dead and hundreds injured.

Tirana declared a state of emergency in the areas hardest-hit by Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude earthquake: the coastal city of Durres and the town of Thumane, where victims were trapped by toppled buildings.

With the help of dogs and more than 200 experts flown in from across Europe  rescuers worked through...
With the help of dogs and more than 200 experts flown in from across Europe, rescuers worked through the night to locate survivors
Armend NIMANI, AFP

With the help of dogs and more than 200 experts flown in from across Europe, rescuers worked through the night to locate survivors.

Early Wednesday in Thumane, emergency workers backed by Greek teams retrieved the body of a young man, an AFP reporter at the scene reported.

They were also attempting to free a young woman who they believe is still alive after the 24-hour-ordeal.

More than 20 people were killed and hundreds injured in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Alb...
More than 20 people were killed and hundreds injured in the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Albania on Tuesday
Armend NIMANI, AFP

By Wednesday morning, the death toll was up to 28 while 45 people had been rescued, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Some 650 people have also been treated for injuries, mostly minor, according to the health ministry.

The powerful quake, which struck just before 4:00am (300GMT) on Tuesday, was the strongest to jolt Albania in decades, according to authorities.

Factfile on the 6.4-magnitude quake in Albania on Tuesday
Factfile on the 6.4-magnitude quake in Albania on Tuesday
, AFP

"The priority is to save people's lives," said Prime Minister Edi Rama, who declared Wednesday a national day of mourning and announced a 30-day state of emergency for Durres and Thumane.

Festivities planned for Albania's Independence Day celebration have been cancelled on November 28 and 29.

Thousands of people spent the night in tents or on the grass of the football stadium in Durres, where some 27 buildings were badly damaged.

It was the strongest quake to jolt Albania in nearly a century
It was the strongest quake to jolt Albania in nearly a century
Gent SHKULLAKU, AFP

Many were afraid to return home as more than 300 aftershocks were felt in Albania and the wider region following Tuesday's quake.

In neighbouring Greece, a strong 6.1-magnitude underwater earthquake shook the island of Crete on Wednesday morning.

Earthquakes are common in the Balkans due to the movements two large tectonic plates -- the African and Eurasian -- and the smaller Adriatic micro-plate.

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