Powerful earthquake hits Tirana, Albania

A building brought down by the earthquakes

Powerful earthquake hits Tirana, Albania

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake has hit Albania, bringing down buildings and leaving people trapped under rubble. At least six people have died. One man died after jumping from a window in panic, a defence ministry spokeswoman confirmed.

The quake hit 34 km (21 miles) northwest of the capital, Tirana, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It was felt across the region, in Italy and in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, almost 700 km away.

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Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter: “We have victims. We are working to do everything possible in the affected areas.”

An Albanian government spokesperson says more than 300 people have received medical help in Tirana and Durres. Schools will be closed for the day.

Emergency workers told Albanian media that one of the dead was an elderly woman who had managed to save her grandson by cradling him with her body.

There have been a number of aftershocks, including one of 5.3 magnitude, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said. The Balkans is in an area prone to seismic activity.

Tuesday’s earthquake has been described by authorities as the strongest to hit Albania in 20-30 years.

In 1979, a magnitude 6.9 quake hit Albania leaving 136 dead and more than one thousand injured.