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Houses, schools and other buildings suffered severe damage, but no human deaths have been reported. The tremor “has the potential to bring people closer to each other and to God”, say Christians in Albania.
The most powerful tremor in the last 30 years shocked the central part of Albania on Saturday 21 September.
The port town of Durres was the epicentre with a magnitude of 5.6, but the quake and its aftershock also impacted Tirana, Albania’s capital city.
Hundreds left their homes and looked for safety in streets and parks. 68 people were treated for injuries. According to the Ministry of the Interior, around 100 houses and apartments suffered cracks and severe destruction. Houses in rural areas were also severely affected.
According to official sources, 34 schools and at least ten university buildings have been damaged. There are no reports yet about evangelical churches affected.
“The trauma that the earthquake has left behind is big”, Ylli Beqiraj, a Christian in Albania, told Evangelical Focus on Monday. “Children are most affected and feeling insecure. One can still feel smaller tremors at night, but those are less serious, the official prediction is that these will disappear in the next days”.
“PEOPLE RUSHED OUT OF THE BUILDINGS”
“The earthquake was strong” but “no human death is reported”, the President of the Albanian Evangelical Alliance (Vush), Ylli Doçi, confirmed to Evangelical Focus. “If it had been on any other day rather than the weekend it would have been a tragedy because the part of the plaster and bricks that fell at the front of the University building of the Geological Faculty could have killed many students who congregate in front of the doors where the debris fell”.
The quake “caused a lot of panic and traffic problems with crowds of people rushing out of buildings. The schools were cancelled for one day primarily because of such emotional shaking the kids experienced”.
“AN OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON THE MEANING OF LIFE”
“I believe it was a good opportunity to reflect on the meaning of life and love”, says Doçi, “with the potential of bringing people closer to each other and to God”.
Amarildo Preni, team member of the Bible Society Albania, also speaks of “many people who chose to spend the night out taking refuge in stadiums or fields”. He agrees that the happenings may have led many to think about the fragilty of life. “One thing we heard and saw a lot everywhere on tv, social media, newspapers... is that everyone was talking about God, about his power and his protection”.