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Earthquake in Albania: digging into rubble Caritas Albania plans post-emergency relief with Caritas Italy

The earth continues to tremble in Albania, with over 500 tremors in the last 24 hours, after yesterday's earthquake that claimed lives and caused damage in Durres and Thumana. Twenty-nine people died, but the death toll is expected to rise. The testimony of Ettore Fusaro, Caritas Italy, that teamed up with Caritas Albania's emergency and rescue operations, from Tirana. Today was a national day of mourning

(Foto AFP/SIR)

“The shakes are continuing, with over 500 recorded in the past 24 hours, including high intensity tremors. It was a rather quiet night. Many people preferred to sleep outdoors. The death toll is now at 29, but unfortunately the numbers are not definitive as many are still missing.”

The impact of the earthquake. Ettore Fusaro, from Caritas Italy, describes the situation after yesterday’s earthquake. Fusaro is in Albania to assist the local Caritas in initial search-and-rescue efforts. Today is a day of national mourning. According to the Ministry of Defence, there were 28 deaths until this morning. More than 650 people were injured, 32 of them in serious conditions, one in critical conditions. Up to now, 46 people were pulled out alive.

“The exact number of missing persons is hard to determine – said the Caritas worker – searches are concentrated in specific areas, in three buildings and hotels in Durres and two collapsed buildings in Thumana, more than 20 kilometres north of the capital, Tirana. All relevant inspections are being conducted in the affected areas to find all missing persons.”

“Several makeshift camps. Two larger ones in Duress sport stadium and in the sport camp in Thumana, where some 1500 people are being assisted also with psychological support”, Fusaro said. Extraordinary display of solidarity: “Many families received hospitality from relatives and friends. Several hotels in Durres, Tirana, Vlora – said Fusaro – offered to accommodate earthquake victims during these days. However, there are still some small villages to be checked, where the rescue teams have not yet arrived. In the meantime with our teams we controlled a number of houses on the outskirts of Tirana. Here the homes of 35 families are unfit for habitation. They asked us for tents to sleep in the garden but we don’t know if they can for safety reasons.”

Post-emergency is already being planned: “We are currently working with Caritas Albania on the analysis of the territory, and on the organisation of a fund-raising initiative for the first interventions, also to meet the demands of the Ministry of the Interior,” declared Fusaro. We are also planning relief programs that will be operational in the next few days when emergency relief will be reduced.” The Albanian government declared today a state of emergency in Tirana and Durres. Prime Minister Edi Rama explained the provision would last for a 30-day period. The Albanian government also intends to ask for donations from abroad to cope with the serious damage caused by the strong earthquake. The Prime Minister announced that the organization of a first donor conference is now almost agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan and with the countries of the Middle East. “We will also ask the EU – he said – to activate the solidarity mechanism for us. Several countries are already supporting us. I shall talk about it with my European colleagues, also during the meeting in London”, of EU Member States’ leaders, scheduled for 3-4 December next.

Vidjo e marrë nga shtabi i emergjencës së Caritas Shqiptar, në Thumanë, njëra nga zonat më të prekura nga termeti.

Pubblicato da Caritas Albania – Shqiptar su Martedì 26 novembre 2019

Children are the most vulnerable. Save the Children has launched an appeal for children. “It was a tremendous shock to affected families and the whole country”, said Anila Meco, national Director of Save the Children in Albania – in emergencies such as this, children are extremely vulnerable. Suddenly, their homes are destroyed, they probably lost family or friends, they saw their belongings destroyed.” Children may not always understand what is happening and these events can be traumatic for them”, added Meco, who called on the government to devote increased attention to the safety of children in the aftermath of this disaster.

Children should be kept safe in suitable shelters. They need places where they can play and overcome their trauma. Tents, beds and blankets for affected children and their families are now the most urgently needed items.

Their homes and apartments have collapsed or were damaged and they need a comfortable place to stay, especially given the onset of winter, along with cooking equipment. We are in touch with the local authorities to assess the needs of the children and we are ready to intervene”, Meco concluded.

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