Search for Albania quake victims ends as death toll hits 51


The search and rescue operation for earthquake survivors in Albania has ended, with the death toll at 51 and no more bodies believed to be in the ruins.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said preliminary figures show more than 1,465 buildings in the capital Tirana, and about 900 in nearby Durres, were seriously damaged in Tuesday’s 6.4-magnitude pre-dawn quake.

About 2,000 people were injured.

Preliminary figures estimate at least 4,000 people are homeless, with about 2,500 given shelter in hotels. Others have been taken to neighbouring Kosovo or have moved to eastern areas of Albania.

People affected by the quake carry clothes and other supplies distributed by authorities in Thumane, western Albania

Mr Rama has pledged all homeless will be in “stronger homes” in 2020.

The first seriously damaged building has been demolished, and a dozen others are expected to follow. Assessment experts from Greece, France, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia are involved.

A new draft law will sentence all investors, architects and supervisors to seven to 15 years in prison for violating construction regulations.

Those violations and corruption in Albania’s burgeoning building industry have been blamed for much of the quake’s effects.

Mourners cry during a funeral of an earthquake victim in Thumane, western Albania

The government has set up financial compensation for families of the victims, including 1 million Lek (£7,000) per family, special pensions for elders and scholarships for children.

Government and private calls for donations have raised about £12.8 million in three days.

Global pop stars of Albanian origin Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Bebe Rexha have made appeals via their social media sites.

Ora said she would help build a home for a homeless family and “myself directly help these families as much as I can”.

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