Tirana, Nov 29 (IANS) The Albanian government on Friday declared an end to the search and rescue phase of the country’s post-earthquake operations.
The death toll in the earthquake that struck Albania on Tuesday has climbed to 49, the European country’s Defence Ministry said.
The country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that 45 people have been rescued and 49 people were found dead, Xinhua news agency reported.
The highest number of deaths was recorded in the tourist city of Durres, on the Adriatic coast, with 25, followed by the town of Thumana, with 23, and Kurbin, with one.
Among the last victims found were the bodies of a woman embracing her twins and her seven-year-old son, whose bodies were recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building in Kenete, in the suburbs of Durres, Rama said.
The Prime Minister also revealed that the catastrophe has killed ten whole families, one of which was a family of eight that died due to the collapse of a four-storey house in the suburbs of Durres.
The 6.5 magnitude earthquake has left more than 500 people injured.
According to Rama, 877 homes in Durres have been destroyed and in the district of Tirana, where the town of Thumana is located, which was also severely affected by the earthquake, 78 buildings have been partially damaged or rendered uninhabitable.
He also announced that the people affected by the tragedy that have spent the last couple of nights in tents in Durres will be transferred to hotels.
Speaking to the media, the Premier said that he had sent letters to many countries asking for financial aid to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake.
“I have just sent letters to governments that go from Germany to Australia, from Great Britain to Japan, from Sweden to Malaysia, in which I call for aid for Albania,” Rama said, before adding that the country had already received 5 million euros and 1.5 million dollars, an “insufficient” amount.
Once the rescue tasks have concluded, damage assessment would be carried out, he added.
There have been hundreds of aftershocks since Tuesday’s earthquake, which have surpassed magnitudes of 5 on the Richter scale, causing panic among a population struck by disaster.
Many people in Durres and Tirana have once again spent the night outside or in their cars out of fear of tremors causing further damage. Others even left the city and headed towards safer locations in the eastern part of the country.
Specialists from Greece, Italy, Turkey, France, Croatia, Romania, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Israel and the United States have taken part in the rescue operations.