At least six people are dead and multiples injured as the biggest earthquake to hit Albania in decades leveled buildings, trapping people in the rubble and sparking panic among residents early Tuesday morning.
Desperate battles are underway this morning to rescue victims from piles of rubble left by the 6.4-magnitude quake, which struck at 3:54am local time.
The epicenter was around 20 miles west of the heavily populated capital city of Tirana, between the coastal town of Durres and the city of Thumane, both of which suffered severe damage.
One man in his fifties died after jumping from a collapsing building in Kurbin, while the bodies of a man and woman were removed from rubble in Thumane and a fourth body was found in Durres. At least two others are dead and 300 people have been treated for injuries.
The tremors were felt across hundreds of miles of eastern Europe, sending residents rushing from shaking buildings with some holding babies in their arms, witnesses said.
Emergency workers told local media one of those killed was an elderly woman who had managed to save her grandson by cradling him with her body.
Witnesses said at least one hotel, the four-storey Mira Mare in Durres, was destroyed, while another building in the city centre was badly damaged.
‘Firefighters and army staff are helping residents (caught) under the rubble’, in Durres and nearby Thumane, a Defence Ministry spokeswoman told reporters.
The Interior Ministry has also asked people to avoid driving in the affected areas to allow emergency services to operate freely.
Below is a short video of some of the havoc caused by the disaster: