At least seven people were killed when the most powerful earthquake to hit Albania in decades rocked the capital Tirana and surrounding region early on Tuesday, causing buildings to collapse and burying residents under rubble.
Residents, some carrying babies, fled apartment buildings in the capital Tirana after the 6.4 magnitude quake struck shortly before 4 a.m. (0300 GMT).
|Powerful quake shakes Albania, kills seven, topples buildings
In the nearby northern town of Thumane, Marjana Gjoka, 48, was sleeping in her apartment on the fourth floor of a five-storey building when the quake shattered the two top floors.
“The roof collapsed on our head and I don’t know how we escaped. God helped us,” said Gjoka, whose three-year-old niece was among four people in the apartment when the quake struck.
The quake was centered 30 km (19 miles) west of Tirana, at a shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, and was also felt across the Balkans and in the southern Italian region of Puglia.
Two women were found dead in the rubble of an apartment building in the northern town of Thumane, and a man died in the town of Kurbin after panicking and jumping out of a building, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said.
The bodies of three other people were pulled from the wreckage of two collapsed buildings in Durres, the defense ministry said, and a man died near the northern town of Lezhe.
Firefighters, police and civilians were removing the debris from collapsed buildings that had trapped people in Thumane. Most of the buildings that collapsed were built of bricks, a Reuters reporter said.