At least 14 killed, 325 injured, as 6.4-magnitude earthquake strikes Albania


A 6.4-magnitude quake hit Albania early on Tuesday morning, triggering at least two building collapses and four deaths.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 3:54 am local time (0254 GMT), with an epicentre 34 kilometres (about 20 miles) northwest of the capital Tirana in the Adriatic Sea, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

Military units were sent to Durres and Thumane to help local rescue workers, while all flights from Tirana airport were suspended due to damage at the airport building.

Defence Ministry spokeswoman Albana Qehajaj said the bodies of two people were removed from a collapsed building in the coastal city of Durres, 33km west of Tirana.

Albanian leaders are calling for calm following an early morning natural disaster that has killed at least six people and injured about 300. "I'm happy", says Agim, a relieved paramedic who helped with the hard rescue of one young man who was stuck inside a collapsed hotel bar on the city's beach. "Rescue-and-save work continues in the collapsed buildings there", Ms Xhacka said.

A Reuters news agency witness described residents fleeing apartment buildings in Tirana, some carrying babies.

Thumane - 26 miles from Durres - was also largely hit, and the AP reported that seven people died there after an apartment building collapsed.

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Hours later in a separate incident, live TV footage showed people cheering when another child was found alive in a collapsed building in Durres where a body had been found earlier.

"A nine-year-old girl is struggling in there with death", a woman in her 50s shouted at the media in front of a collapsed five-story building where nine people were thought to still be trapped.

The 6.4 magnitude quake was felt across the southern Balkans and was followed by multiple aftershocks. Power was down in several neighbourhoods.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said nearby countries, including Italy and Greece, have been assisting Albania with the recovery operation, while other European leaders have also offered their assistance.

At least 150 people with injuries were being treated in hospitals in Tirana and Durres, Health Minister Ogerta Manasterliu said.

Besar Likmeta, a journalist for the BIRN Albania non-governmental media organisation, described the damage caused across central Albania by the quake as "extensive".

Located between Greece and Macedonia, Albania experiences regular seismic activity.