Europe

Magnitude 5.6 quake rocks Albanian cities

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A magnitude 5.6 earthquake and an aftershock have rocked buildings in western Albania, including in the capital, sending people rushing out on to the streets.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 and a slightly weaker aftershock have rocked buildings in the Albanian port town of Durres and the capital Tirana.

The defence ministry says the quake struck 13km north of Durres, at Kepi i Rodonit, at 2.04pm local time on Saturday.

It said it was mainly felt along Albania's west coast.

Damaged cars outside the Faculty of Geology building after an earthquake in Tirana.
Damaged cars outside the Faculty of Geology building after an earthquake in Tirana.
AP

The ministry said it was the most powerful quake in Albania in the past 30 years.

Residents in Durres and Tirana ran out of buildings on to the streets and into parks for safety.

"All our neighbours came out screaming. Thank God it did not last long - about 20 seconds. It was a nightmare on the 10th floor. I don't remember a more powerful one than this," a pensioner in Tirana called Agim, 67, told Reuters on Saturday.

Bricks debris litter the ground.
Bricks and debris litter the ground.
EPA

Local media reported that 49 people were being treated for injuries at Tirana's main hospital.

One person in Durres reportedly suffered a broken leg when rushing out of a building, and some others in rural areas were reportedly injured by falling bricks and plaster.

The US Geological Survey gave the quake an initial magnitude of 5.6, while the Albanian Geosciences Institute reported it as registering 5.8 with an aftershock 11 minutes later measuring 5.3.

One apartment building in Durres was heavily damaged, with a crack running down it from the sixth floor all the way to the ground.

An old building in Tirana was evacuated after cracks appeared in its walls, while debris from fallen bricks was scattered across the courtyard at the Geology Faculty at the city's university.

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