Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo are sending teams to Albania to assist with rescue efforts after the country was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday morning, while other countries in the Balkan region have also offered help.
All the countries closest to Albania, including Italy and Greece, have offered help with the recovery operation, while other European leaders have also offered their assistance.
“It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calm, stay alongside each other to cope with this shock,” said Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to the Associated Press.
The death toll rose throughout the day after the biggest quake in the country for decades. A total of 15 people were killed and around 600 injured. Many are still trapped under rubble, while around 41 have been safely rescued.
CNN reported that at least four victims died in Durres, quoting a spokesperson for Prime Minister Edi Rama. Two more died in the village of Thumane, one died after jumping from a building in panic in Kurbin, and another while driving on a badly-damaged road in Lezhe, the spokesperson added.
Military units were sent to Durres and Thumane to help local rescue workers, while all flights from Tirana airport were suspended due to damage at the airport building.
Schools have been closed in three cities – Durres, Lezhe and Tirana – until further notice.
Several strong aftershocks were registered on Tuesday in Albania and Bosnia, and were also felt in other countries in the region, causing panic among locals.
The strongest one hit Bosnia and rated 5.4 magnitude, with its epicentre in the south, eight kilometres south-west of the town of Nevesinje.
Meanwhile, Kosovo’s government has donated 500,000 euros to Albania to help with the recovery.
People in Kosovo have also taking to social networks to offer their homes for anyone affected and in need.
Montenegro health and interior ministers, Kenan Hrapovic and Melvudin Nuhodzic, went to Albania to visit the worst-affected village, Thumane. They offered help by sending medical and rescue teams, but also with treating the injured in Montenegrin public hospitals.
The Croatian Army’s chief of staff, General Mirko Sundov, said that Croatia will send two helicopters and a Defence Ministry civil protection unit to assist Albania in the recovery operation, according to local media.
The Serbian Interior Ministry’s Emergency Sector will send 13 members of the Special Search and Rescue Team, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic offered more help during a telephone conversation with Albanian premier Rama.