Very strong M6.4 earthquake hits Albania - 39 killed, more than 650 injured, 8 critically

Very strong M6.4 earthquake hits Albania - 39 killed, more than 650 injured, 8 critically

A very strong earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.4 hit Albania at 02:54 UTC (03:54 LT) on November 26, 2019. The agency is reporting a depth of 20 km (12.4 miles). EMSC is reporting M6.4 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). This is Albania's strongest earthquake in 40 years. Numerous aftershocks were recorded.

The epicenter was located 13 km (8 miles) WSW of Mamurras (population 8 282), 14 km (9 miles) WNW of Fushë-Krujë (population 10 458), 18 km (11 miles) SW of Laç (population 24 825) and 19 km (12 miles) N of Shijak (population 13 138), Albania.

There are 2 600 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles) and 1 300 000 within 50 km (31 miles).

45 000 people are estimated to have felt severe shaking, 950 000 very strong, 442 000 strong, 1 309 000 moderate and 9 638 000 light.

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities (some casualties are possible) and orange alert for economic losses.

Significant damage is likely and the disaster is potentially widespread. Estimated economic losses are 0-3% GDP of Albania. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.

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.

This is Albania's biggest earthquake in decades.

Several buildings collapsed and many were badly damaged, with the coastal town of Durres suffering the worst damage.

At least three apartment buildings collapsed with people inside.

At least 50 people had been taken to the hospital in capital Tirana alone.

Updates

12:02 UTC

At least 14 people have been killed and more than 600 injured. The death toll is expected to continue rising. 

Albanian President Ilir Meta said the situation is 'very dramatic.'

Emergency teams are arriving from Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Italy, Greece and other neighboring countries.

More than 30 moderate to strong aftershocks were registered by 12:00 UTC. Three of them had magnitudes above 5.0.

18:22 UTC

The death toll rose to 18. Several more are missing.

November 27

17:30 UTC

The death toll continues rising and has reached 27 by late Wednesday afternoon (local time).

The video below shows what remains of what used to be 7 floors high Hotel Palma.

November 28

10:40 UTC

The number of casualties in Thumane, adjacent to the Adriatic coastal city of Durres, is now 39, the Defense Ministry said today.

According to the Health Ministry on Wednesday, some 658 people were injured, eight of them critically.

Some 2 150 people are taking shelter in 148 tents set up in villages around Thumane and Durres.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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