AP PHOTOS: Lives exposed: Albania quake breaks open homes
DURRES, Albania (AP) — A handbag dangles from a coat hanger, gleaming saucepans sit stacked in a kitchen cabinet, sheets and duvets lie neatly folded in a bedroom cupboard. All scenes of ordinary domesticity, except for one detail: the rest of the homes these ordinary items were part of have vanished, crumpling in the devastating force of an earthquake that struck Albania earlier this week.
The 6.4-magnitude quake that hit Albania’s Adriatic coast before dawn on Tuesday has left at least 51 people dead, around 2,000 others injured and about 4,000 people homeless. The worst hit areas were the port town of Durres, a popular beach vacation spot for Albanians that is 33 kilometers (20 miles) west of the capital Tirana, and the nearby town of Thumane.
Both locations saw apartment buildings crumble from the power of the earthquake. Hundreds of rescuers from more than a dozen countries from Europe and beyond flew in to help in search-and-rescue operations, while more countries sent in medical supplies, tents and other forms of aid. After the first day, rescuers were finding more bodies than survivors.
Apart from the buildings that were destroyed, initial checks indicated about 700 buildings in Durres and more than 235 in Tirana were seriously damaged. Many only partially collapsed, leaving gaping holes where walls and floors should be, bedroom doors opening into the void, bathroom fixtures dangling from walls in a stark reminder of the powerful and destructive force of nature.