TIRANA—A strong earthquake hit Albania on Saturday afternoon, forcing residents into the street in several cities, triggering power cuts in the capital and the collapse of some buildings in a nearby village.
“There are no deaths,” Albania’s defense ministry spokesperson Albana Qajaj said.
“Some 20 people went to the hospital for light injuries caused by (falling) objects or parts of walls as well as for panic attacks,” she told AFP.
She added that houses and buildings here have been damaged but were still standing and that the ministry was accessing damage in other towns and villages.
Albania’s defense ministry said it was “the strongest earthquake in the country in last 20 to 30 years.”
The epicenter of the quake, with a magnitude of 5.6 and a depth of 10 kilometers, was located near Durres, less than 40km west of the capital Tirana, according to the US Geological Survey.
AFP reporters and witnesses saw windows broken and deep fissures in the facades of buildings in Durres, as well as in the capital.
Merchandise in a supermarket was seen strewn over the floor and fallen masonry damaged parked cars. Electricity and telephone lines were cut off in a number of other towns and villages.
At the University of Tirana, the building housing the geology department was also damaged, according to witnesses.
Media also reported that a big building in Tirana was seriously damaged and that residents were being evacuated.
According to local media reports, at least two people were lightly injured and a dozen houses collapsed in the village of Helmes, 10 km from Tirana.
People fearful of aftershocks remained outside their homes for several hours.
“I fear to return because such a strong earthquake could be followed with others,” a resident in her fifties, Drita Lohja, told AFP.
Two other earthquakes followed the strong one that occurred at around 4 p.m. (10 p.m. Singapore time) and was felt in neighboring Montenegro and Italy, also rocked the Greek island of Corfu according to some Twitter users.