Strong quake hits Albania; at least 2 dead, 150 injured

People were seen leaving homes to go to open areas. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2019

Strong quake hits Albania; at least 2 dead, 150 injured

  • US Geological Survey said the earthquake measured 6.4 in magnitude
  • People reported seeing cracks in their apartment walls

TIRANA, Albania: A strong earthquake shook Albania early Tuesday, killing at least six people, injuring 300 and collapsing buildings.
The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.4 quake, which struck just before 4 a.m. local time, had an epicenter 30 kilometers northwest of the capital, Tirana, at a depth of 20 kilometers. Scores of aftershocks included three with preliminary magnitudes of between 5.1 and 5.4.
The quake collapsed at least three apartment buildings while people slept, and rescue crews were working to free people believed trapped in the rubble. There was no indication as to how many people might still be buried in the rubble.
Albanian President Ilir Meta said the situation in the town of Thumane, closest to the epicenter, was “very dramatic.”
“All efforts are being made to take the people out of the ruins,” he said, and called on the Cabinet to request international assistance.
Prime Minister Edi Rama said neighboring Kosovo was sending an emergency team to help with rescue efforts.
The bodies of three people were removed from a collapsed building in the coastal city of Durres, 33 kilometers west of the capital Tirana, the Defense Ministry said. Another two people were found dead and removed from the rubble of a building in Thumane, while one person died after jumping from his home to escape shaking from the quake in Kurbin, 50 kilometers north of the capital.
Health Minister Ogerta Manastirliu said some 300 injured people were treated in Durres, Tirana and Thumane.
All government agencies are on alert and “intensively working to save lives at the fatal spots in Durres and Thumane,” Rama said.
“It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calm, stay alongside each other to cope with this shock,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
The quake was felt along the Albanian coast.
Authorities reported scores of aftershocks and called on people in the most affected areas to stay out of their homes and avoid driving in the affected areas to allow emergency vehicles free access. Many reported seeing cracks in their apartment walls.
At least three apartment buildings and the power distribution station were damaged in Thumane.
An earthquake in September in roughly the same area damaged hundreds of homes.


Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

Updated 55 min 57 sec ago

Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

  • Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa
  • US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the United States on Thursday he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.
Visibly upset, Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa, a former police chief who is now a senator.
Dela Rosa said the US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled but that he believed it was most likely because of allegations of extrajudicial killings during his more than two-year term as police chief.
Dela Rosa was the chief enforcer of Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, which has resulted in deaths of more than 5,000 people, mostly small-time drug dealers. Police say victims were shot by officers in self-defense.
“If you do not do the correction, one, I will terminate the bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Duterte said in a wide-ranging speech before former Communist rebels. “I am giving the government and the American government one month from now.”
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
Delfin Lorezana, Duterte’s defense minister, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with the president’s plan.
Duterte makes no secret of his disdain for the United States and what he considers its hypocrisy and interference, though he acknowledges that most Filipinos and his military have high regard for their country’s former colonial ruler.
The United States is the Philippines’ biggest defense ally and millions of Filipinos have relatives who are US citizens.
Last month, Duterte banned US senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from visiting the Philippines after they introduced a provision in the US Congress.
The provision calls the ban on US entry to anyone involved in locking up Philippine senator Leila de Lima, a former justice minister and Duterte’s top critic who was jailed in 2017 on drug charges after leading an investigation into thousands of deaths during the anti-narcotics campaign.
She has won numerous awards from human rights groups, which consider her a prisoner of conscience.
The US Embassy in Manila could not immediately be reached for comment outside office hours.