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Albania hit by 6.4-magnitude earthquake, killing at least 26, injuring hundreds

By Rachel Brooks

The nation of Albania has been shaken to its soul. At least 26 people are dead, citing the BBC this morning. Also citing BBC, fresh tremors are being felt in the region.

Deutsche Welle stated that a corresponding quake struck in Bosnia mere hours after the first in greater Tirana, Albania. 

The Albania quake is one of the strongest earthquakes to seize this region in decades, citing Al Jazeera. The US Geological Service reviewed the incident. USGS confirms the quake magnitude as a 6.4 yet states that the intensity and reach may be much wider than public understanding has so far documented. 

 The USGS topographical map of the region has tremors indicated even into Serbia, Macedonia, and even as far away as slight tremor response of the coast of Calabria. Nearest the central impact zone, the Modified Mercalli Intensity, abbreviated MMI was 7.5. In further off regions, such as Calabria, that intensity lessened to a 3.5 MMI rank. MMI rank is a monitor of the shaking intensity that is observed by people in the impact zone. 

Liquefaction demonstrated. Niigata, Japan earthquake 1964. The image is licensed under “public domain”.

The USGS did have some positive news regarding landslides. The report of ground failure trended toward a moot number of landslides in the immediate region.  Ground failure is the metric used to determine the immediate risks of landslides and other corresponding issues to the public. There were a sparse few landslides from the incident. Those that may have followed the quake had a spatial impact and the population was not impacted by them. 

Durres, Albania by the water. Another city impacted by the quakes. Image created August 4, 2019, licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.

The USGS did, however, find an indication that the risk of liquefaction to the public had significantly increased. Liquefaction occurs when loose, water-logged sediments at the ground surface lose their strength as the ground shakes. Liquefaction is the reason for the sunken ground you see in post serious earthquakes. Sometimes the ground will implode, which is known to wipe out whole bridges and roads. Infrastructure is severely damaged by liquefaction. 

The major earthquake hit the greater Tirana region. The city of Thumane has received critical damage, citing multiple major news outlets. A basic map of the impact zone was provided by the BBC. 

 The quake struck at a 6.4 magnitude at approximately 4 am on Tuesday morning. The quake collapsed buildings. Fatalities ensued. With hearts and bones at once broken, Albania has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning for the victims. The world has joined Albania in solidarity.

 The tremors were felt with great intensity even 19 miles away, citing the New York Times. Panic followed in its wake. Survivors are still cast among the rubble. Public search parties seek those unaccounted for. Due to the ongoing search, the number of fatalities is not final. Likewise, some injuries may result in after-the-fact fatalities. 

Some families continue to be trapped in the rubble and are awaiting rescue. Rescuers make a brave but “scrambling” attempt to unearth these trapped victims in time to prevent further fatalities, citing CBS News.  At the time of the CBS post, at least 28 people had been recovered with success. In Durres, the whole community cheered when a child was plucked from the rubble or an imploded building at last.  

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