More than 100 people injured, 600 buildings damaged after M5.6 earthquake hits Albania, the strongest in 30 years

More than 100 people injured, 600 buildings damaged after M5.6 earthquake hits Albania, the strongest in 30 years

A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the EMSC and USGS as M5.6 hit near capital Tirana, Albania (population 375 000) at 14:04 UTC on September 21, 2019 (16:04 LT) at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). There are more than 2 540 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles). The quake was followed by M5.1 at 14:15 UTC and more than 200 aftershocks over the next 24 hours.

2 000 people are estimated to have felt severe shaking, 215 000 very strong, 764 000 strong and 245 000 moderate.

This is the strongest quake to hit Albania in the last 30 years, country's Ministry of Defence said, adding that over 500 houses and 100 apartment buildings suffered damages at a different scale.

105 people were injured in Tirana and Durres. 12 of them are hospitalized as of September 22.

Health Minister said most were hurt while running out of their homes in panic.

Structural damage included large cracks in the sides of buildings, fallen air conditioning units, chunks of masonry breaking away, crushed cars, and broken items inside people’s homes, reports.

Albania earthquakes September 21 - 22, 2019. Credit: Google, TW/SAM

M5.6 earthquake near Tirana, Albania on September 21, 2019. Credit: Google, TW/SAM

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Albania.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick with timber floor and nonductile reinforced concrete frame construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM


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