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Albania quake: Death toll rises to 28

Albania quake: Death toll rises to 28
Emergency personnel continue their search for survivors of the Albanian earthquake, scouring the debris of a collapse building in the town of Thumane.
TIRANA, Nov 27 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 11/27/2019 12:43:10 PM IST

Albanian rescuers Wednesday are continuing their search for survivors after working through the night to retrieve victims of the country’s worst earthquake in decades. 

At least 28 people are dead and there are fears that more are trapped under the rubble after the 6.4-magnitude tremor and a series of aftershocks caused widespread damage, Dailymail reported. Rescue workers have set up tents at a football ground in Durres, a coastal city which was badly damaged in the quake and where buildings have been reduced to rubble. 

There was also severe damage in the capital city Tirana, 20 miles from the epicentre of the quake, and in the town of Thumane where the body of a five-year-old girl was pulled from the rubble. 

Civilian and military rescuers are today continuing their search with 45 people pulled out of the rubble alive so far, as marathon rescue efforts continued with headlamps and spotlights after the sun went down.  

Meanwhile the Albanian Red Cross said it had deployed doctors, first aid workers and 160 volunteers and was providing urgent medical assistance, food and water for survivors.  

“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, where the earthquake damage is at its worst.  

Festivities planned for Albania’s Independence Day celebration have been cancelled on November 28 and 29. By Wednesday morning, the death toll was up to 28 while 45 people had been rescued, the defence ministry said in a statement.  

Rescuers and their Greek helpers retrieved the body of a young man early today and were also attempting to free a young woman who they believe is still alive after the 24-hour-ordeal.   

Among those desperate for news was police officer Ajet Peci, whose two daughters were killed in an apartment block collapse in the port city of Durres. 

His wife is still missing.

‘How can I live?’ Peci said, sobbing as he was consoled by neighbors. ‘I don’t know what I did to make it out. I wish I had stayed with them.’ 

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

The health ministry said that more than 650 people have received first aid for injuries, mostly minor.

Some 300 local soldiers and 1,900 police were sent to Durres and Thumane to assist with the rescue efforts, according to authorities.

Aid also poured in from around Europe, with teams from Italy, Greece and Romania among those deployed to help after the strongest earthquake to hit the Durres region since 1926.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a conference of Muslim countries to help Albania recover, saying he was calling on ‘the entire Islamic world to support Albania’. 

Erdogan added that Turkey has dispatched military cargo planes, emergency assistance teams and aid convoys to Albania. 

Meanwhile Pope Francis said he was praying for the victims and their families, saying Albania was the first country in Europe he wanted to visit as pontiff.  

The Pope made his comments to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly audience. 

Albania’s cities and coastline have undergone rapid development in recent decades, and illegal construction ignoring building codes is rife.    

 

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