One person has died and more than 50 people are believed to be injured after a powerful earthquake struck Albania this morning.
A spokeswoman for the defence ministry confirmed to Reuters that one person was killed after they jumped from a building during the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that has brought down several buildings and forced residents to flee in terror, some holding babies in their arms.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed that the earthquake, the strongest in Albania for decades, struck north of Durres, less than 20 miles from the capital of Tirana on the country’s west coast, at just before 4am (3am GMT) at a depth of 6.2 miles.
There were early reports of people seen fleeing their homes to find open areas while others were said to be trapped inside damaged buildings.
"Firefighters and army staff are helping residents under the rubble", in Durres and the nearby village of Thumane, a defence ministry spokesperson said.
#earthquake in #Durres
First reported damages! #Albania pic.twitter.com/6jS3Nb0Xiv
— Klaudja Karabolli (@KKarabolli) November 26, 2019
Two government spokesmen said that the worst damage was in Durres and a few people had been taken to hospital in Tirana.
Erion Veliaj, Tirana’s mayor, said on Twitter that the earthquake was felt all across the capital and local media outlets are reporting injuries and major damage to buildings.
Video footage posted on social media showed what appeared to be a collapsed building in Durres, 40km west of Tirana, on the Adriatic coast. Other footage showed buildings with large cracks and fallen masonry.
The USGS predicted that about 8,000 people would have felt "severe" shaking, and almost 12 million would have felt it in countries including Greece, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia. It was felt in the Italian regions of Puglia and Basilicata.
Located along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, between Greece and Macedonia, Albania experiences regular seismic activity.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 shook the country on September 21, damaging about 500 houses and destroying some. The defence ministry had said it was the most powerful quake in Albania in the last 30 years.
The Balkan nation is the poorest country in Europe, with an average income of less than a third of the European Union average, according to Eurostat.