6.4-magnitude quake strikes Albania: authorities

by AFP/ graphic by AFP

ALBANIA – A powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Albania on Tuesday, sparking panic in Tirana and the coastal city of Durres where a building collapsed, according to the ministry of defence.

The shallow quake hit about 34 kilometres northwest of Tirana in the early hours of the morning, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, sending people in the capital running into the streets.

“There is considerable damage,” ministry of defence spokesman Albana Qajahaj told AFP.

A three-storey hotel in Durres collapsed while another building in the city centre was badly damaged.

Damage was also reported in Thumana, 30 kilometres from Tirana.

Around 50 people with light injuries were being treated in hospital in the capital, Health Minister Ogerta Manasterliu said.

No information was immediately available on whether anyone had been killed.

The quake was felt across the Balkans, from Sarajevo to Bosnia and even in the Serbian city of Novi Sad almost 700 kilometres away, according to reports in local media and on social media.

It was followed by several aftershocks, including one of 5.3 magnitude, the EMSC said.

The same region of Albania was hit by a 5.6-magnitude quake in September, described by authorities as the strongest earthquake of the last 20-30 years.

The Balkans area is prone to seismic activity and earthquakes are frequent.