Rescue workers comb ruins of hotel for Albanian quake survivors

By Florion Goga

DURRES, Albania (Reuters) – Rescue workers sifted through the rubble of a hotel by the Adriatic Sea for possible survivors on Friday, three days after a 6.4-magnitude destroyed the six-storey building and many others in the Albanian port of Durres and surrounding areas.

The death toll from the quake, Albania’s worst ever, has reached 49. There have been more than 500 aftershocks since Tuesday’s quake, some with a magnitude of more than 5.0, rocking already damaged buildings and terrifying residents.

The sea-front hotel, the Mira Mare, is now the only site where rescue work is still continuing. The search teams, from neighboring Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, said a female dancer was believed to be buried beneath the rubble.

Nearby, another hotel, the Ljubljana, was leaning to one side, its ornamental Roman columns cracked. Shattered glass and a toppled potted plant lay strewn across what had been its reception area.

A woman pushed a pushchair piled high with bags of what appeared to be possessions she had managed to rescue from the wreckage of her home.

“At the moment when the earthquake struck, I wasn’t scared at all. But when I went out, and saw the horror, I became petrified,” said Durres resident Tahir Halili.

“Even now, as we speak, I am not at all well. When I saw all that destruction, that hell, all those lost lives, my friend, it is unbelievable.”

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said 25 people had died in Durres, 23 in the northern town of Thumane and one in the town of Lac. The quake damaged more than 700 houses in Durres, destroyed 12 more and left nearly 200 apartment buildings with cracks and fissures, he said.

Rama extended a 30-day state of emergency already in force in Durres and Thumane to Lac. A family of six was due to be buried in Thumane on Friday.

More than 5,000 people have been left homeless by the quake, Rama said. They are being housed in hotels, schools, gyms and other temporary accommodation.

“Do not stay at home if it is damaged,” Defence Minister Olta Xhacka appealed to citizens during a news conference.

“We are able to offer shelter, food and clothing. The quality of life and health of citizens is our concern and life in tents is temporary.”

(Writing by Benet Koleka, Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Gareth Jones)

Rescuers use drones and dogs to search for Albanian quake victims

By Fatos Bytyci and Benet Koleka

THUMANE/DURRES, Albania (Reuters) – Emergency crews found five more bodies on Wednesday as they used drones, dogs and heavy machinery to search through the wreckage after Albania’s worst earthquake in decades, bringing the death toll to at least 30.

In the town of Thumane, close to the center of Tuesday’s quake, a woman stood in front of a collapsed building calling out for rescuers to find her niece.

Soon after crews brought out two bodies. Police said they had found another victim earlier, before dawn. Another two were recovered hours later.

In one of the busiest streets in the resort of Durres, two people were feared trapped in the rubble of a collapsed hotel.

“We don’t know whether they are alive or not,” Mert Eryuksel, a rescue worker from Turkey said.

Countrywide, the Defence Ministry said around 650 had been injured, with another 20 reported missing.

If the death toll continues to rise, the earthquake could be more deadly than one in 1979 in which 40 were killed.

The 6.4 magnitude quake, centered 30 km (19 miles) west of Tirana, was felt across the Balkans and in the southern Italian region of Puglia, across the Adriatic Sea from Albania.

At least 250 aftershocks – two of them magnitude 5 – then shook the Balkan country, continuing into Wednesday. Hundreds of people spent the night sleeping in tents pitched by the emergency services.

Italy, France, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia have sent 200 specialized troops, tools and teams of tracker dogs to help the relief effort.

Adrian Muci said six of his relatives had died in two separate buildings, and his own house was on the point of collapse.

“I have other cousins and relatives but I don’t know where they are and if they are dead or not,” he told Reuters. “I will never be able to live in my house any more.”

The government proclaimed Wednesday a day of mourning and Prime Minister Edi Rama said the authorities would rehome people who had lost their houses in hotels during the winter.

“I believe we shall put them in new houses within 2020, in better housing that they had,” Rama said in a televised comment.

He said a donor conference with Turkey and regional countries would be organized and he would discuss potential help with NATO allies during next week’s summit in London.

Albania is the poorest country in Europe, with per capita income a quarter of the European Union average, according to the International Monetary

(Reporting by Fatos Byticy; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

 

Powerful quake kills 13 in Albania as buildings bury residents

By Benet Koleka and Fatos Bytyci

TIRANA/THUMANE (Reuters) – At least 13 people were killed when the most powerful earthquake to hit Albania in decades shook the capital Tirana and the country’s west and north on Tuesday, tearing down buildings and burying residents under rubble.

Residents, some carrying babies, fled apartment buildings in Tirana and the western port of Durres after the 6.4 magnitude quake struck shortly before 4 a.m. (0300 GMT).

In the northern town of Thumane, Marjana Gjoka, 48, was sleeping in her apartment on the fourth floor of a five-storey building when the quake shattered the top floors.

“The roof collapsed on our head and I don’t know how we escaped. God helped us,” said Gjoka, whose three-year-old niece was among four people in the apartment when the quake struck.

The quake was centered 30 km (19 miles) west of Tirana, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, and was also felt across the Balkans and in the southern Italian region of Puglia.

Hours later a magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit Bosnia, with an epicentre 75 km (45 miles) south of Sarajevo, monitors said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Five people were found dead in the rubble of apartment buildings in the northern Albanian town of Thumane and a man died in the town of Kurbin after jumping out of a building, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said.

Seven bodies were pulled from collapsed buildings in Durres, the main port and tourism destination, the Defence Ministry said, adding 39 had been pulled out alive from under the ruins.

Defence Minister Olta Xhacka said 135 people were injured.

Firefighters, police and civilians were removing the debris from collapsed buildings in Thumane. Most of the buildings that collapsed were built of bricks, a Reuters reporter said.

Rescuers in Thumane used a mechanical digger to claw at collapsed masonry and remove a tangle of metal and cables. Others groped with bare hands to clear rubble.

Two people were pulled from rubble in Thumane four hours after the quake, a Reuters reporter said. Doctors said they were in a bad condition.

“Everything at home kept falling down,” Refik, a Tirana resident, said of the impact on his sixth-floor apartment.

“We were awake because of the previous quakes, but the last one shook us around,” he told Reuters, referring to smaller tremors recorded in the hour before the main quake.

Rescuers told local media one of the dead was an elderly woman who saved her grandson by cradling him with her body.

TRAPPED

Xhacka said the quake’s epicentre was in Durres. It was followed by 100 aftershocks.

“Durres and Thumane are the areas worst hit. Rescue-and-save work continues in the collapsed buildings there,” she said as troops pulled a victim from a hotel in Durres.

At least 135 people were injured, with 72 hospitalized, Xhacka said. Two planes from fellow NATO-member Romania were expected to land with specialized search and rescue equipment and help was coming from Italy and Turkey, Xhacka said.

Greece had sent emergency services for search and rescue operations, its premier’s office said.

“Firefighters and army staff are helping residents under the rubble”, in Durres and Thumane, the Defence Ministry said.

An unidentified man, with a wound dressing on his right cheek, told News24 TV his daughter and niece were among those trapped in a collapsed apartment building in Durres.

“I talked with my daughter and niece on the phone. They said they are well and are waiting for the rescue. Could not talk to my wife. There are other families, but I could not talk to them,” the man said.

Located along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, between Greece and Macedonia, Albania experiences regular seismic activity.

An earthquake of 5.6 magnitude shook the country on Sept. 21, damaging around 500 houses and destroying some. The Defence Ministry had said it was the most powerful quake in Albania in the last 30 years.

The images of collapsed buildings in urban areas suggested Tuesday’s quake was more powerful than one in 1979 which razed a neighborhood of a northern town. Neither of those two earlier earthquakes caused fatalities.

The Balkan nation is the poorest country in Europe, with an average income of less than a third of the European Union average, according to Eurostat data.

(Reporting by Benet Koleka in Tirana and Fatos Bytyci in Thumane; Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Indonesia issues tsunami alert after powerful quake causes panic

Indonesia issues tsunami alert after powerful quake causes panic
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia issued a tsunami alert on Thursday after a powerful earthquake struck in the sea near the Moluccas, prompting panicked islanders to flee to higher ground, according to residents and a media report.

The quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and struck 139 km (86 miles) northwest of the city of Ternate at a depth of 45 km, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Earlier, the agency put the magnitude at 7.4.

“Most likely it (a tsunami) won’t hit the land, but we still need to be on alert,” Rahmat Triyono, an official at Indonesia’s geophysics agency, told Kompas TV. He said there had been no reports of damage so far.

The quake was also felt strongly on the island of Sulawesi, to the west of the epicenter.

Indah Lengkong, a resident of port city of Bitung in North Sulawesi, said by text message: “The house was visibly shaking.”

People in her neighborhood had initially panicked, she said, adding: “The quake was very strong and lasted for a while. We can still feel tremors but weaker.”

Twitter user @inritaehyungie, who lives in Tondano in North Sulawesi, also felt the quake strongly.

“The earth was literally shaking so hard,” she said.

Metro TV said some residents had fled to higher ground in the North Moluccas.

(Reporting by Jakarta bureau; Writing by David Evans and Ed Davies; Editing by Catherine Evans)

Strong quake in Philippines kills one, injures dozens

Rubble is seen on a floor of a hotel in the aftermath of an earthquake in Kidapawan City, Philippines October 16, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media. NARU GUARDA CABADDU/via REU

By Neil Jerome Morales and Peter Blaza

MANILA (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least one child and injuring more than two dozen other people.

Government authorities were starting to receive reports from field officials on the island of Mindanao where the earthquake struck, opening cracks in buildings and homes, sending residents running from shops and offices and knocking power out.

“Our hospital chief reported that a child died because of the earthquake,” Reuel Limbungan, mayor of Tulunan town in North Cotabato province, told the DZMM radio station. Two more people were injured, he added.

The earthquake also shook Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte and among the most populous cities in the country.

In Magsaysay town, in the nearby province of Davao del Sur, 20 people were injured by falling debris and home furniture, Anthony Allada, the municipality’s information officer, told DZMM.

“Many houses were totally damaged… Another person is in a critical condition,” Allada said.

The municipality of M’lang, in Cotabato province, reported three injuries, Vice Mayor Joselito Pinol told DZMM radio.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 69 km (43 miles) north-northwest of the city of General Santos, Mindanao at 7:39 p.m. (1137 GMT). The epicentre was about 80 km southwest of central Davao.

“We felt a very strong jolt and there was a blackout. I saw people rushing down. We were panicking, heading to the exit,” said Naru Guarda Cabaddu, a hotel consultant visiting Kidapawan City, between the epicentre of the quake and Davao.

The Philippines is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent earthquakes.

“I was driving back home when I felt a very powerful shake. I stopped and saw people and patients running out of the hospital,” Raprap Rafael, a resident of Kidapawan City, told Reuters. “I’m not sleeping at my home tonight.”

Renato Solidum, head of the Philippines seismic agency, told the ANC news channel there was a chance of aftershocks, which could be strong and capable of causing severe damage.

“Aftershocks can happen. Some can be felt most likely in low intensities. But we cannot remove the possibility of similar intensities that can be felt in the epicentral area,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Peter Blaza; Editing by Matthew Tostevin, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

Death toll in east Indonesia quake rises to 30, many still in shelters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – The death toll from a strong earthquake in Indonesia’s eastern province of Maluku has risen to 30 people, the national disaster mitigation agency (BNBP) said on Sunday, and hundreds of thousands of people remain in evacuation shelters.

The 6.5 magnitude quake hit early on Thursday, damaging hundreds of houses and dozens of public facilities and infrastructure, including the main bridge in the city of Ambon.

Officials on Thursday had put the death toll at 20 people. Many were killed by falling rubble.

More than 150 people were injured, BNBP spokesman Agus Wibowo said in a statement on Sunday, and over 200,000 remain in shelters.

Those whose houses were destroyed have set up tents as shelters in near hospitals or schoolyards.

People living near the ocean have evacuated to higher ground following the quake, fearing a tsunami, despite authorities have ruled out the possibility of a giant wave.

Indonesia, which sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, is often hit by deadly earthquakes and tsunamis.

The city of Palu, on the island of Sulawesi west of Maluku, was devastated by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a powerful tsunami it triggered last September, killing more than 4,000 people.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Death toll rises to 37 in Pakistan earthquake, as families bury loved ones

Death toll rises to 37 in Pakistan earthquake, as families bury loved ones
By Akhtar Soomro and Abu Arqam Naqash

MIRPUR/MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – The death toll from an earthquake that struck Pakistani Kashmir jumped to 37, officials said on Wednesday, as families mourned relatives and rescue teams sent supplies to the area.

Officials said the extent of the casualties, who included young children, emerged a day after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck as authorities were able to reach towns and villages around the region outside main population centres.

“We had dispatched survey teams in the entire area affected by the earthquake to collect details of the victims,” Muhammad Tayyab, divisional commissioner for Mirpur, one of the worst affected areas, told Reuters, adding that around 500 people had been injured.

Tuesday’s earthquake levelled homes and shops and split open roads in an area between the towns of Jhelum and Mirpur to the north, part of which is in Pakistan’s portion of the disputed territory of Kashmir.

“The situation is slowly returning to normal, the level of panic is now less among the people, although an aftershock was felt at night,” said Sardar Gulfaraz Khan, a police deputy inspector general.

Most of the damage happened in villages where old houses collapsed, Khan said.

In a town in Mirpur district, more than 200 people gathered to attend the funeral of a 1-1/2-year-old child who was killed in the earthquake. Women wailed around the bed where the boy’s body lay covered in a blanket.

Another child in the town was buried the same morning after a wall collapsed on her.

“All of sudden I received a call from my father that there was an earthquake and my little sister is badly injured,” her brother Mohammad Hameed said. “She was injured and (now) she has left us.”

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier said 25 people had been killed and that most of the casualties were in Pakistani Kashmir.

Many people from the area slept outdoors overnight and some were returning home on Wednesday to collect belongings and inspect damage.

Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, the NDMA’s chief, said the authority would bring in 200 family-sized tents for temporary shelters, kitchen sets, blankets and 50,000 bottles of water.

Troops and other emergency responders carried out rescue operations through the night, with engineers starting repairs on a key road that was severely damaged, the Pakistan Army’s communications arm said.

Afzal said the road would reopen by Thursday evening. Three bridges were also damaged.

The earthquake disrupted power to the region, but it had been restored by midday on Wednesday, NDMA said.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a tweet, offered condolences to families of the victims and said he had directed the government to quickly offer relief and assess damage.

Kashmir has been in dispute between India and Pakistan since the two countries were carved out of British colonial India in 1947 and have been the cause of two wars between them.

(Reporting by Abu Arqam Naqash in Muzaffarabad and Akhtar Soomro in Mirpur; Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Writing by Rod Nickel and Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad; Editing by Tom Hogue and Alex Richardson)

Quake hits sea off Indonesia, but tsunami warning lifted

A woman uses a phone as she leaves an office building, following an earthquake hit in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 2, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Dwi Prasetya/ via REUTERS

By Ed Davies and Jessica Damiana

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake struck off the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java on Friday, triggering a two-hour tsunami warning that sent coastal-dwellers fleeing to higher ground and panicking people in the capital Jakarta.

The U.S Geological Survey put the epicenter in the Indian Ocean about 227 km (141 miles) from Teluk Betung city on Sumatra with an initial magnitude of 7 that was later lowered to 6.8.

There appeared to be no major damage or casualties, but strong tremors were felt in Jakarta, the capital, prompting people to run out of office buildings.

“It was so scary,” said Gustiani Pratiwi, carrying two children out of an apartment block in Jakarta after feeling the quake strongly.

Indonesia is situated on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is frequently hit by earthquakes and sometimes accompanying tsunamis.

The most devastating in recent Indonesian history was on Dec. 26 in 2004, when a magnitude 9.5 quake triggered a massive tsunami that killed around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s geophysics agency issued a warning of potential tsunami waves up to three meters (10 feet) but that was withdrawn once the risk was discounted.

TV footage showed passengers at Jakarta’s international airport rushing out of a terminal building, but authorities later said the airport was operating normally.

The quake could also be felt in other cities such as Yogyakarta on Java island.

One social media video showed panicked guests dashing out past a hotel swimming pool on Java island.

Last year, a tsunami hit the city of Palu in Sulawesi island, killing thousands, while a crater collapse at the Anak Krakatau volcano triggered a tsunami that killed at least 430 people in an area near the latest quake.

(Reporting by Ed Davies and Jessica Damiana; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Andrew Cawthorne)

Indonesia tells residents near coast to get to high ground after tsunami alert

People gather outside an office building following an earthquake hit in Jakarta, Indonesia, August 2, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Dwi Prasetya/ via REUTERS

By Ed Davies and Jessica Damiana

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities urged coastal-dwellers to head for higher ground on Friday after a tsunami warning with potential for waves up to three meters (10 feet) following a powerful earthquake off the islands of Sumatra and Java.

The U.S Geological Survey put the epicenter in the Indian Ocean about 227 km (141 miles) from Teluk Betung city on Sumatra with an initial magnitude of 7 that was later lowered to 6.8.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, but strong tremors were felt in Jakarta, the capital, prompting people to run out of office buildings.

“It was so scary,” said Gustiani Pratiwi, carrying two children out of an apartment block in Jakarta after feeling the quake strongly.

Indonesia is situated on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is frequently hit by earthquakes and sometimes accompanying tsunamis.

The most devastating in recent Indonesian history was on Dec. 26 in 2004, when a magnitude 9.5 quake triggered a massive tsunami that killed around 226,000 people along the shorelines of the Indian Ocean, including more than 126,000 in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s geophysics agency said it would keep monitoring for a potential tsunami until at least 21:35 pm (1435 GMT) and warned residents to stay alert.

The tsunami risk was in southern parts of Banten province in Java and Lampung province in Sumatra, it said.

“Please look for higher ground at least 10 meters (33 feet) high,” agency chief Dwikorita Karnawati told a news conference.

TV footage showed passengers at Jakarta’s international airport rushing out of a terminal building, but authorities later said the airport was operating normally.

The quake could also be felt in other cities such as Yogyakarta on Java island.

One social media video showed panicked guests dashing out past a hotel swimming pool in Tasikmalya on Java island.

Last year, a tsunami hit the city of Palu in Sulawesi island, killing thousands, while a crater collapse at the Anak Krakatau volcano triggered a tsunami that killed at least 430 people in an area near the latest quake.

At Carita beach in Banten, which was affected by the Anak Krakatau quake, a resident described the alarm in the area.

“We are panicking a lot,” Sandi, a resident of Carita beach, told Metro TV by telephone.

(Reporting by Ed Davies and Jessica Damiana; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Andrew Cawthorne)

Strong quake strikes off El Salvador, no initial reports of damage

Electrical power company workers check transmission lines after an earthquake in San Salvador, El Salvador, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

(Reuters) – A strong earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador early on Wednesday, though emergency services said there were no initial reports of significant damage.

The magnitude 5.9 quake hit 46 km (29 miles) south of Nueva San Salvador, La Libertad, at 0554 GMT, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

El Salvador’s civil protection authority said on Twitter that no tsunami warning had been issued.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Andrew Heavens)