TIRANA – On 26 November, early Wednesday morning at 3:54 local time, northwestern Albania was struck by a strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake with an epicenter northwest of the capital Tirana. The maximum perceived intensity was VIII (severe) on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale. The tremor was felt in all parts of the country, and in places as far away as the Italian city Taranto and the Serbian capital Belgrade, some 370 kilometers northeast of the epicenter. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Albania in forty years. There have been hundreds of aftershocks, of which four have been greater than 5-magnitude.
Following the deadly earthquake, the Albanian government declared Wednesday a day of national mourning and a state of emergency in the Durres and Tirana regions. The earthquake razed several buildings to the ground in the port city of Durres and the surrounding villages, trapping dozens of people. Material damage and casualties have been reported in Tirana also. Neighboring and European Union countries have reacted to the earthquake with sending civil emergency rescue teams and financial aid.
For more than 36 hours, civil emergency crews, police, the army and specialized rescue teams from other countries have been digging in the ruins of collapsed buildings seeking survivors. The authorities say they have so far rescued 45 people. According to the latest official data, at least 48 people were killed in the earthquake, with 790 injured and more than 20 missing. These numbers are far from complete, especially considering the official hiding of foreign victims.
Unreported foreign casualties
While Albanian citizens living in Tirana and Durres, 30 km and 15 km from the epicenter respectively, had some luck to avoid disaster, the members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) aka National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCR) had none. Stationed only 5 km from the epicenter of the main earthquake, as well as less than a kilometer away from the epicenter of powerful 5.3-magnitude aftershock, the residents of poorly built barracks of the Ashraf-3 base have experienced true horror.