Emergency personnel work at the site of a collapsed building in the town of Durres, following Tuesday's powerful earthquake…
Emergency personnel work at the site of a collapsed building in the town of Durres, following Tuesday's powerful earthquake that shook Albania, Nov. 27, 2019.

TIRANA/DURRES/THUMANE - The death toll from the strongest earthquake to hit Albania in more than three decades rose to at least 25 Wednesday.

Rescue crews continued to work to find and free people from the rubble after many residents spent the night in tents set up for survivors.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 6.4 with an epicenter 30 kilometers northwest of the capital, Tirana.

Three hours after the initial quake, a magnitude-5 aftershock struck in the Adriatic Sea.

Among the deaths, which included some children, were 13 people killed in the coastal city of Durrës, seven in Thumane, and one in Kurbin. Several buildings were also destroyed in Durres and Thumane.

Escaped the worst

Video taken in the quake zone shows terrified children and adults.

Prefect of Durrës Roland Nasto told VOA there are nine sites "in the city where crews continue to work to find people," suggesting the toll might rise.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said Wednesday will be a day of national mourning.

"[Tomorrow] we will start the process of finding shelter for people who today are under open skies and who will spend the night in tents, some of them — due to the trauma — even refusing to be sheltered in arenas or gyms, afraid to be somewhere with a ceiling," he said at a trauma hospital in Tirana, where many of the 600 injured were taken.

Citizens rest at a makeshift camp in Durres, after an earthquake shook Albania, Nov. 26, 2019.

He later visited Thumane to assess the damage.

"We want our loved ones to be dug out of the rubble as soon as possible," said a Thumane resident, who told VOA's Albanian Service her cousin and his wife were missing.

Another resident said, "We are trying to find people that are dead or alive. We are afraid to go inside the buildings for fear that they will crumble."

President Ilir Meta and opposition leader Lulzim Basha also visited areas affected by the quake.

Show of solidarity

Aid and support poured into the country. Kosovo's outgoing government allocated $550,000 for relief efforts and Kosovo's Security Force sent specialized teams and enlisted help from private companies.

Rescue teams and specialized crews were dispatched from neighboring Kosovo, Italy and Greece.

"Two groups of specialized crews have come from Kosovo, two from Greece, two from Italy, and we expect a specialized group of 40 from Italy," Prefect Nasto said.

A general view of damnified at a makeshift camp in Durres, after an earthquake shook Albania, Nov. 26, 2019.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, visiting North Macedonia on Tuesday, said he would go to Albania to offer "any assistance needed to face the catastrophic situation."

The European Commission said on Twitter that its stands by Albania "at this difficult time following the earthquakes."

"We have mobilized immediate support to help local authorities, and rescue teams from Italy, Greece and Romania are already on their way," a statement on Twitter said.

The U.S. Embassy also sent a statement of condolence: "The United States stands with our friends in Albania, just as Americans and Albanians have always stood by each other during difficult times. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and stand ready to offer our support."

The Albanian diaspora also was rallying to help, holding several fundraisers to send money to the poorest country in Europe.

"I am so heartbroken for my people back home, for those who have lost lives and loved ones," New York City Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, an Albanian American, told VOA.

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