At least nine dead, 600 injured as powerful earthquake jolts Albania

The latest report by the Albanian rescuers who were digging through rubble in search of survivors Tuesday after the strongest earthquake in decades levelled buildings and trapped victims under the debris, claiming at least 13 lives and injuring more than 600 people. Defence ministry said

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 3:54 am local time (0254 GMT), with an epicentre 34 kilometres (about 20 miles) northwest of the capital Tirana in the Adriatic Sea, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

In Tirana, panicked residents ran out on the streets and huddled together in the darkness, an AFP reporter said.

The worst damage was in and around the coastal city of Durres.

Four bodies, including that of a young girl, were pulled from ruins in the port city, where a hotel collapsed and other buildings were badly damaged, the defence ministry said.

Three more bodies were found in rubble in the nearby town of Thumane. In the nearby town of Kurbin, a man is his fifties died after jumping from his building in panic, while another perished in a car accident after the earthquake tore open parts of the road, it said.

Initial reports
The initial report claimed that four people died and some 150 were slightly injured after a powerful 6.4 magnitude rocked Albania early Tuesday, AFP reports, quoting latest data of local authorities.

A man in his fifties jumped out of his building in the town of Kurbin in a panic and died, the defence ministry said.

The bodies of a man and a woman were removed from rubble in Thumane, north of the capital Tirana, it said. A fourth body was found in the coastal town of Durres.

At least 150 people with injuries were being treated in hospitals in Tirana and Durres, Health Minister Ogerta Manasterliu said.

The quake was felt across the Balkans, from Sarajevo to Bosnia and even in the Serbian city of Novi Sad almost 700 kilometres away, according to reports in local media and on social networks.

It was followed by several aftershocks, including one of magnitude 5.3, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
The same region of Albania was hit by a 5.6-magnitude quake in September, described by authorities as the strongest earthquake of the last 20-30 years.

The Balkans is an area prone to seismic activity and earthquakes are frequent.

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