Rescue teams in Albania scrambled through mountains of rubble on November 28 in the hope of finding survivors of a powerful earthquake that claimed at least 40 lives.
Hundreds of people were preparing to spend a third night outside, sleeping in cars or in tents erected by charities, after the 6.4-magnitude earthquake — the strongest in decades — struck early on November 26 northwest of the capital, Tirana.
The quake, which was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, razed buildings to the ground in the port city of Durres and the northern town of Thumane, trapping dozens of people.
Sixteen of the fatalities occurred in Durres and 23 in Thumane, the Defense Ministry said, adding that the quake claimed one life in the region of Lac.
More than 650 people were also injured.
Dozens of people have been safely rescued.
Rescue efforts were halted in Thumane, where the Defense Ministry said no more people were missing.
In Durres, Albanian and international teams continue to work to shovel away slabs of collapsed apartments and search beneath the wreckage using dogs and special cameras.
“There may be hope for up to eight or 10 days” for victims to live after an earthquake, AFP quoted a French rescuer, Captain Joel Leroy, as saying in Durres.
Festivities planned for Albania’s Independence Day celebrations on November 28-29 have been canceled.
Quakes are common in the Balkan region, which lies close to a fault line between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates.
In 1979, a quake hit Albania and neighboring Montenegro, claiming more than 130 lives.