Map of Albania, showing location and intensity of shaking. Star marks epicentre.
|UTC time||2019-11-26 02:54:12|
|Local date||26 November 2019|
|Local time||03:54:12 CET (UTC+1)|
|Depth||20.0 km (12.4 mi)|
|Areas affected||Mamurras, Durrës, Kodër-Thumanë|
|Max. intensity||VIII (Severe)|
|Peak acceleration||0.5062 g|
|Peak velocity||43.01 cm/s|
Northwestern Albania was struck by a strong 6.4-magnitude earthquake with an epicentre 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) west-southwest of Mamurras, at 03:54 CET (UTC+1) on 26 November 2019. The earthquake lasted at least 50 seconds and was felt in Albania's capital Tirana, and in places as far away as Taranto and Belgrade, 370 kilometres (230 mi) northeast of the epicentre. The maximum felt intensity was VIII (Severe) on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale. A total of 51 people were killed in the earthquake, with about 3,000 injured. It was the second earthquake to strike the region in the space of three months. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Albania in more than 40 years, its deadliest earthquake in 99 years and the world's deadliest earthquake in 2019.
Albania lies across the convergent boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the Adriatic Plate, part of the complex collision zone with the African Plate. The structure of the western part of Albania is dominated by active thrust tectonics. The region is seismically active, with several M ≥ 6 earthquakes in the last hundred years. In 1979, the largest of these events struck 70 kilometres (43 mi) further north, in Montenegro, killing 136 people (101 in Montenegro and 35 in Albania). The most recent significant earthquake in the area was an M 5.6 event on 21 September 2019 with an epicentre ENE of Durrës, which was at the time the most powerful in 30 years and damaged 500 houses.
The earthquake had magnitude of 6.4 Mww, according to the ANSS Comprehensive Catalog. The observed focal mechanism is consistent with reverse movement on a NW-SE trending fault, parallel to the known thrust faults in the area. The maximum perceived intensity was VIII (severe) on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale (MMI).
By 1 December, there had been 1,300 aftershocks. As of 02:00 (UTC) 27 January 2020[update] there had been five aftershocks that were greater than M 5.0 and a further forty-five between M 4 and 5. The largest aftershock occurred at 07:08 CET (UTC+1), less than four hours after the mainshock, with a magnitude of M 5.4. This event caused shaking of intensity VII (very strong).
|November 26||02:59:24||5.1||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||03:03:00||5.3||VII||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||06:08:22||5.4||VII||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||07:27:02||4.8||V||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||12:14:13||4.4||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||13:05:00||4.9||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||15:11:56||4.2||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 26||17:19:13||4.7||VI||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||11:03:35||4.1||III||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||14:45:24||5.3||VI||12.6 km (7.8 mi)|||
|November 27||17:11:04||4.5||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||22:19:00||4.3||III||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||22:50:15||4.5||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||22:51:24||4.4||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 27||23:02:49||4.2||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 28||00:50:09||4.4||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 28||10:25:05||4.5||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 28||10:52:42||4.9||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 28||20:33:24||4.4||II||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 28||23:00:43||4.6||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|November 30||20:53:52||4.4||III||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 1||06:04:19||4.2||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 2||08:26:24||4.5||II||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 2||23:23:00||4.5||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 7||23:14:28||4.1||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 9||14:53:06||4.3||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 9||14:58:59||4.4||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 9||15:04:57||4.1||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 9||15:10:58||4.5||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 15||01:18:36||4.3||IV||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 17||04:14:32||4.4||–||10.0 km (6.2 mi)|||
|December 17||18:53:45||4.4||IV||15.9 km (9.9 mi)|||
|December 19||16:03:12||4.4||IV||17.2 km (10.7 mi)|||
|January 1||02:53:41||4.1||I||16.1 km (10.0 mi)|||
The damage was mostly in the large port city of Durrës and the village of Kodër-Thumanë, which are near the epicentre of the earthquake. Two hotels and two apartment blocks collapsed in Durrës. Four buildings, including a five-storey apartment block, collapsed in Kodër-Thumanë and the town was hardest hit from the earthquake. The town of Laç was extensively damaged. A state of emergency lasting 30 days was declared by the Albanian government for Durrës, Thumanë and Tirana and later extended to Lezhë and Laç. In accordance with the Albanian constitution regarding an emergency situation, the Albanian parliament granted Prime Minister Edi Rama state of emergency powers to deal with earthquake aftermath. Aftershocks followed that shook structures ruined during the earthquake and caused concern among locals. Subsequently numerous homes were no longer safe to reside in.
Prime Minister Edi Rama converses with a displaced person
EU officials meeting displaced people
Members of the Albanian army involved in relief work
Emergency tents prepared for displaced people at the stadium in Durrës
Displaced people housed in emergency tents
Albanian soldiers, numbering in the hundreds, and some 2,000 Albanian police officers were dispatched to the earthquake affected localities of Thumanë, Durrës, and the nearby wider area. They were tasked to assist with the rescue operation and the installation of shelter facilities for displaced people. Three hundred emergency tents to shelter some 1,000 people were erected at a sportsfield within Thumanë and close to a stadium in Durrës. Albanian troops working with limited resources rescued people from debris of collapsed structures and they were assisted by 250 troops from the United States and various European countries.
As the last severe earthquake in Albania was in 1979, it lacked expertise in rescue operations. Subsequently, rescue crews with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and emergency supplies came to Albania from neighbouring countries and other European nations to help in the search efforts and provide for those left homeless. In total, people from foreign countries involved in search and rescue numbered 670. Many homeless people in Kodër-Thumanë spent two nights in tents, refusing to stay in hotels on the Adriatic Sea. Special forces (RENEA) continued searching for several people that were reported missing, and at least 45 individuals were rescued alive from the rubble.
The aftershocks, some of which were quite large, made it difficult for the search and rescue teams. Albania's Minister of Health Ogerta Manastirliu initially announced over 900 injuries, of which 731 were treated at the hospitals in Tirana and Durrës alone. Reports from the Ministry of Health stated that care was provided for 62 injured people who were in a stable condition, with the exception of 3 people in intensive care. Later, official information from the government confirmed 51 people were killed in the earthquake - 25 in Durrës, 25 in Thumanë, and 1 in Lezhë. Among the deceased were 7 children aged between 2-8. Following the earthquake an additional 2 people from Kurbin died, one from their injuries in hospital and another through suicide, due to posttraumatic stress. In the aftermath of the event, 5,200 locals were without any shelter. Forty five people trapped in earthquake debris were rescued.
An Albanian military owned dwelling in Durrës, social centres in Tirana and various privately owned buildings such as 90 gyms in Krujë, Tirana, Lezhë, Durrës and numerous hotels in Vlorë, Durrës and Tirana were adapted and opened to shelter displaced people. Some 2,500 displaced people have been housed in hotels, another 2,100 are in tents, whereas others affected by the earthquake slept in gyms or their cars. In Durrës, authorities distributed food throughout the city and reports of complaints emerged that some people had not yet obtained supplies. Due to safety concerns and aftershocks, some people were not allowed to reenter their own homes and became dependent on food donations until engineers checked buildings. Stemming from concerns caused by the earthquake, there were locals who did not want to return to their homes.
Displaced people have been relocated to Kosovo with 500 residing in a former German NATO military base in Prizren refitted as a temporary camp by the Kosovo government. Some displaced people are housed in the Kosovan municipalities of Lipjan numbering 3 families, 11 families with 48 members in Podujevë, 70 people in Malishevë, 150 people in Pristina and others in Gjakova. Other people have gone to eastern Albania. Albanian physicians assisted in relief efforts.
Albanian President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha visited the earthquake epicentre to see firsthand the situation and damage. The often fraught political rivalry between Meta, Rama and Basha was put aside as all three were involved in relief efforts. National operational centres were established by the Albanian government along with a phone line for people affected by the earthquake needing clothes or food.
In the immediate aftermath, 2,500 people became displaced by the earthquake and are temporarily being accommodated either in the Niko Dovana Stadium of Durrës in tents or in hotels. Turkey evacuated 23 of its citizens from Albania to a hospital located in Izmir province.
Aerial view of collapsed building in Durrës
Aerial view of collapsed building in Durrës
Earthquake damage in Durrës
Search and rescue team from Italy working on a collapsed building
Search and rescue team from Romania working on a collapsed building
On 30 November Prime Minister Rama announced the end of the search and rescue operation, as no more bodies were expected to be under the rubble. According to his statement, about 2,000 people were injured from the earthquake in total, with more than 4,000 being left homeless in the disaster's aftermath. Preliminary figures showed that more than 1,465 buildings in the capital Tirana suffered serious damage, in addition to about 900 in nearby Durrës. The first funeral for the deceased was held on Friday with hundreds of people in attendance including President Meta and Prime Minister Rama.
Earthquake damage is being checked by civil engineers from the European Union, United States and local experts to assess whether buildings are structurally sound, unsafe and required demolition or just needed replastering. Demolition of damaged structures deemed unsafe, some through remote control explosions by the Albanian army began, with others to follow suit in future. The Prosecutor's office ordered on 3 December that it needed lists of damaged buildings from police and municipal authorities before permission was granted for demolition, due to pending investigations.
The EU office in Albania estimated that some 1.9 million people out of a total population of 2.8 million have been affected by the earthquake. Of those, more than 3,000 people were injured, 14,000 became homeless and throughout Albania 14,000 buildings were damaged of which 2,500 are rendered uninhabitable. According to the Albanian government, in mid December 13,000 people were "accommodated" in shelter, of whom 5,000 were placed in hotels. A fortnight after the event, some rural earthquake victims in the impact zone stated that government aid was either inadequate to non-existent and that they were still living in a dire situation. Official data in early January stated that 10,000 people were still sheltering in tents. In late January 2020, 48,000 dwellings and structures have undergone inspection and the government has identified 35 areas in 10 municipalities for future rebuilding work.
In early February 2020, the Albanian government publicised figures that earthquake damage to private and public properties cost €844 million. Full reconstruction costs are estimated at €1.07 billion, with €800 million devoted to the rebuilding of homes and the rest allocated for repairing health centres, schools and infrastructure damaged by the earthquake. Other structures, such as 321 kindergartens and schools sustained €72 million worth of damage. A total of 11,490 homes were rendered damaged or destroyed and another 83,000 are in need of repairs.
A national day of mourning was declared in Albania and neighbouring Kosovo where two of the victims were from and which has an ethnic Albanian majority population. In North Macedonia, the Albanian majority municipalities of Tetovo, Struga and Čair held days of mourning for the earthquake victims. Albanian Independence Day celebrations, held annually on 28 November were cancelled in Albania, Kosovo and in majority Albanian municipalities of North Macedonia and Montenegro.
In Albania, volunteers, along with some small organisations established drop off points for donations of food, clothing, blankets and hygiene products at prominent landmarks throughout Tirana and used social media to mobilise people to provide assistance. Three humanitarian organisations sorted and packed the items and sent them through several truckloads for distribution among displaced people of the earthquake zone. As demand was high, citizens were urged to donate over coming days. Hundreds of Albanians in Albania and Kosovo opened their homes to people displaced by the earthquake. Some students from Tirana went to assist relief efforts in Durrës and delivered hundreds of meals to earthquake affected people. Residents of Tirana held a candle light vigil in the city centre in honour of the deceased.
The Albanian state initiated an online fundraising campaign for donations, raising 156 million leks, €1,600,000 and $25,000. The Socialist party in parliament and members of the Albanian government along with 60 mayors donated their November salary to the aid effort. The Muslim Community of Albania organised nationwide fundraising for monetary, food and material supplies and opened its mosques and madrasas as a place of shelter for earthquake victims. The Orthodox Church of Albania under Archbishop Anastasios opened the local monasteries and churches to people displaced by the earthquake. The Catholic Church in Albania held mass in its churches on 27 and 28 November for earthquake victims and coordinated its relief efforts through local branches of the Catholic charity Caritas. Football fan groups such as "Kuq e Zi" of the Albanian national team set up an emergency fund and sent volunteers from throughout the country to assist in relief operations. Fan groups from local teams such as "Tirona Fanatics" KF Tirana, "Guerrils" FK Partizani Tirana, KF Vllaznia Shkodër and players from clubs such as FK Kukësi sent food and clothing supplies and expressed solidarity with victims during matches following the first weekend after the earthquake.
The Albanian government established a monetary compensation scheme that would give families of deceased people scholarships to children, pensions for the elderly and 1 million lek ($9,000) for a family. Prime Minister Rama said that the state budget was being reconfigured to manage the situation following the earthquake. Rama stated that the draft budget of 2020 would provide funds for the construction of homes and cost some 7 billion leke ($63.10 million) or 0.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The exact final amount is unknown and apart from the aim of getting displaced people into homes, Rama wants reconstruction to expand economic growth, jobs and consumption.
Apart from costs and planned projects already factored in, the government committed itself to no new budgetary expenditure except for irrigation, so as to accumulate funds for reconstruction. Rama has called for additional expert assistance and monetary aid geared toward recovery from the international community stating that Albania lacks the capacity "to do this [reconstruction] alone." By mid December, 13 billion leks ($171 million) were allocated for future reconstruction by the Albanian government. In late January 2020, the government budget placed a total of 20 billion Lek in a fund for the future rebuilding process.
In Albania, a large proportion of the earthquake damage has been blamed on corruption, violations of the building code and substandard construction following the demise of communism during the early 1990s. The Albanian state has drafted a law in the aftermath of the earthquake that would see investors, supervisors and architects go to prison for a period of 7–15 years if proper construction practices are violated. Albanian prosecutors have begun proceedings to investigate violations of regulations and illegal building within the construction industry. On 14 December, Albanian prosecutors and police detained nine people on charges of murder and abuse of power, including two owners of collapsed hotels. A further eight individuals are being sought who are also suspected of failing to follow safety regulations. In mid December, Prime Minister Rama was criticised by NGOs, human rights organisations and parts of the media of misusing the situation to pass controversial legislation after he sought a three-month extension for his state of emergency powers from parliament. A new government portfolio was established and on 20 December, Arben Ahmetaj became the Minister of State for Reconstruction to oversee the rebuilding process.
In Kosovo, its ethnic Albanian population reacted to the earthquake in Albania with sentiments of solidarity, moved in part by memories of solidarity and sanctuary the Albanians of Albania provided them when they fled ethnic cleansing by Serb forces during the 1999 Kosovo war. Kosovo Albanians undertook fundraising initiatives and appeals, collected money, food, clothing and shelter donations. In Pristina, volunteers established a drop off point in the central square for donations of supplies and several truckloads were sent to displaced people affected by the earthquake. Volunteers and humanitarian aid in trucks, buses and hundreds of cars from Kosovo traveled to Albania to assist in the situation and people were involved in tasks such as the operation of mobile kitchens and gathering financial aid. Kosovo Albanian school children donated clothes, food, and books. By 29 November, more than 100 tons of supplies donated by Kosovo businesses and civilians reached Albania. Candle light vigils were held in parts of Kosovo in honour of the deceased. Various football fan groups and their clubs such as"Intelektualët" FC Drita, "Skifterat" SC Gjilani, "Plisat" FC Prishtina, "Stuhia e Kuqe" KF Arbëria, "Tigrat" KF Ulpiana, "Legjendat" FC Llapi, "Gladiatorët" KF Vushtrria and from KF KEK were involved in collecting donations, mobilising and sending busloads of volunteers to assist in relief efforts.
The Islamic Community of Kosovo organised a fundraising effort on 29 November after Friday prayers across all its mosques within the country and sent several convoys of aid to earthquake victims. The Catholic Church in Kosovo sent members from the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas to assist in Albania. In Kosovo, the Catholic Church held mass on 1 December across the country and it collected charitable donations by parishioners for earthquake victims and their families. President Hashim Thaçi was part of a presidential delegation that visited the earthquake epicentre and expressed his condolences on behalf of Kosovo. On 29 November, outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and his successor Albin Kurti visited Durrës to survey the damage and expressed Kosovan commitment to relief efforts and the need for institutional cooperation between both countries. In Serbia, ethnic Albanians of the Preševo valley donated aid and sent it through several convoys to earthquake victims.
Albanians from North Macedonia responded in large numbers to the Albanian government's appeal for financial assistance through donations to various humanitarian organisations and special bank accounts fundraising for aid. The Islamic Religious Community of Macedonia organised a fundraising effort on 29 November after Friday prayers across all its mosques within North Macedonia. Parliamentary speaker Talat Xhaferi, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and leader of DUI Ali Ahmeti were part of a delegation of Albanian politicians from North Macedonia visiting the earthquake epicentre that expressed their condolences to President Meta. The mayor of Čair, Visar Ganiu visited the earthquake epicentre and brought fans known as "Shvercerat" from the football club FK Shkupi to volunteer assistance. Other football fan groups "Ballistët" KF Shkëndija and "Ilirët" KF Bashkimi collected donations and sent busloads of volunteers to assist in relief efforts.
In Montenegro, ethnic Albanians from Ulcinj were involved in a major relief effort sending items such as food, blankets, diapers and baby milk through a local humanitarian organisation Amaneti and in Tuzi through fundraising efforts. A blood donation effort for earthquake victims was organised by the Bosniak Youth Forum of Montenegro with hundreds of Albanians from Ulcinj partaking in the initiative. In Ulcinj, the Islamic Community of Montenegro collected aid for earthquake victims in all mosques of the city and surrounding area.
Various prominent businesses owned by ethnic Albanians and charities in Albania and Kosovo along with notable members of the Albanian community in the Balkans including businessmen, politicians, journalists, actors and socialites made large financial contributions for humanitarian aid. Businesses that made large donations include the International Albanian Airport (€1,000,000) and Balfin Group (€1,200,000), the charities Fundjavë Ndryshe ($1,400,000) and Shqiptarët për Shqiptarët ($590,000), along with individuals such as Kosovo politician Behgjet Pacolli (€1,000,000) and Albanian businessman Shefqet Kastrati (€1,500,000).
Globally, the Albanian diaspora expressed its solidarity and held multiple fundraisers to send money to Albania and assist people impacted by the earthquake. In the United States, an Albanian-American organisation named Albanian Roots raised $1,300,000 for earthquake victims. Global celebrities of Albanian descent such as Bebe Rexha, Rita Ora, and Dua Lipa pledged support, sent donations, and made visits to the country's most quake-ravaged regions in hopes to rebuild some of the affected areas' infrastructure. In all, these non-state donations by Albanians from the Balkans and global diaspora totaled some 13 million dollars of humanitarian assistance to Albania.
Individual donations by people from 76 countries were also made through online fundraising on the websites GoFundMe and Facebook totaling $3,600,000. Money from the Albanian diaspora continued to arrive in Albania and Prime Minister Rama tasked a group of fundraisers, that includes a Muslim imam experienced in housing the needy, to combine the donations and maintain oversight of their usage. By early December, all donations for humanitarian assistance totaled $92 million.
The European Union, the Catholic Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Secretary General, presidents of Azerbaijan, China, Armenia, Serbia, Montenegro, United States and Greece, the German Chancellor, the monarchs of Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Iranian and Estonian foreign ministers expressed their condolences to the people of Albania.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his condolences, called for aid from other Muslim countries and stated he will lobby them to give assistance to Albania for future reconstruction. Prime Minister Rama contacted President Erdogan and asked for the creation of an international donors conference with one involving western countries and the other with states from the east. Rama also wrote to US President Donald J. Trump and other countries such as Sweden, Malaysia, Japan, Great Britain, Germany and Australia asking for assistance.
President Erdogan, citing close Albanian-Turkish relations, committed Turkey to reconstructing 500 earthquake destroyed homes in Albania. The Turkish reconstruction effort will focus on Laç and Kodër-Thumanë where the homes will be built, along with civic structures such as gardens, parks, shopping centers, parking lots and religious buildings. The Turkish government will administer reconstruction in Laç and cooperate with the Albanian government on building designs and getting earthquake affected people quickly into homes. Qatar committed itself to the future reconstruction effort.
At the NATO 2019 London summit (3–4 December), constructive discussions were held by Prime Minister Rama with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other European leaders over establishing an international conference for financial aid. German chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Germany would provide future assistance. In Istanbul, Turkey held a donors conference (8 December) for Albania that was organised and attended by President Erdogan and included Turkish businessmen, investors and Prime Minister Rama.
On 12 December, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio made calls for the establishment of an international conference for financial aid to Albania. Following the completion of the earthquake damage report by Albanian authorities, the European Council announced on 13 December that the European Union will organise an international donors conference for January 2020 in Tirana. A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) was established by the United Nations (UN), World Bank and EU to assess the situation and to provide information for the donors' conferance regarding efforts toward rehabilitation and reconstruction. On 10 January the EU announced that it had organised a donors’ conference for Albania to take place on 17 February. Apart from the EU and its member countries, delegates from other states, international organisations and financial institutions such as the UN and World Bank are expected to partake in the conference.
A number of countries and businesses have offered assistance for relief:
Have donated to Albania €1.15 billion and activated the Civil Protection Mechanism on the day of the earthquake. As such, the EU became involved in the international assistance effort that followed in relation to mobilisation of three teams from Romania, Greece and Italy, aid and structural engineers to evaluate earthquake damage. The EU promised to provide further future assistance to the state and people affected by the earthquake. The EU worked with the United Nations to coordinate earthquake relief assistance. The EU allocated €15,000,000 for earthquake relief in Albania and it will send 200 individuals to assist with the rebuilding process.
(Translation:) Hercules' loyal friends announced that members of their association traveled to Albania with essentials for earthquake-stricken people. The Greeks sent a wonderful message that solidarity knows no bounds.
(Translation:) The "All Together We Can" in cooperation with the Hellenic Red Cross and the Attica Prefecture gathered essential items at 7 locations in Attica for our fellow citizens who lost their homes. The response from the world was huge. Data show that more than 250 tonnes of essentials have been collected. [...] Blankets, sheets, duvets, pillows, toiletries and toiletries, foldaway beds and long lasting food. By 9am, crowds of people had delivered all these goods to the victims of Albania.
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