Albania: Earthquake - Final Report (MDRAL008)



Description of the disaster

On 26 November 2019, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Albania at 3.54 am local time, centered 30 km west of Tirana, at a depth of 10 km. A second earthquake of 5.4 magnitude followed at 7.10 am with the epicentre near Durres (34 km northwest of Tirana) and aftershocks (peaking above Magnitude 4) in subsequent weeks. According to official sources a total of 51 people lost their lives1 and 913 people were injured. The Government of Albania (GoA) declared a state of emergency on 27 November lasting for 30 days, later on extended until 31 March 2020.

The most affected administrative regions were the prefectures of Durrës, Lezhë and Tiranë. Structural damage was widespread, yet focused on old buildings and those built with poor building practice in the transition area of the 1990s and early 2000s. Additional administrative areas considered secondary affected are those where people have been evacuated to by the government, including Berat, Dibër, Elbasan, Fier, Kukës, Shkodra and Vlorë (minor damage is reported in several villages in some of these prefectures).

Structural damage assessment by Albanian experts and supported by international capacities has been completed midFebruary. The Post-Disaster Need Assessment indicates that 5,080 buildings (including apartment blocks, single-family houses, hotels, schools, infrastructure, etc.) have been categorized under DS4 and DS5, equating to being uninhabitable. In the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) a total of 11,490 housing units have been classified as fully destroyed / to be demolished.

On 29 November 2019, IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal which was revised in February 2020 increasing the total budget to CHF 5,100,000 and extending the timeframe to 12 months. The aim was to support the immediate needs, early and mid-term recovery of the early operation. The timeframe of the appeal was further extended with three months until 28 February 2021 due to implications created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 pandemic implications

On 9 March 2020, while the Albanian Red Cross was in process of the household registration and identification of target groups for Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) - until 8 March, 820 families were assessed - the GoA announced the first two cases of COVID-19 in Albania, imposing restrictions across the entire territory of Albania for the movement of people, vehicles, gatherings, the closure of all schools; cancelling flights, initially until 1 June 2020.

Nevertheless, immediately after the announcement of the lockdown, ARC obtained the unrestricted permission to carry out its humanitarian activities, and on 1 April 2020, the process of the household registration for CVA has restarted and was completed in May 2020 with some 1,626 household interviews carried out in all affected areas.

Due to the outbreak some originally planned PSS and Health activities that were community-based ones were also affected and could not be carried out as originally planned. The number of volunteers planned to be trained on PSS and Health had to be reduced, to meet the Standard Protocol for COVID-19 situation in Albania meaning that the maximum of gathered people must not exceed 10. PSS interventions which were modified due to the new circumstances have been continued, mostly online and through social media channels in order to mitigate the impact of the earthquake as well as the impact of COVID-19 and its restrictions at the same time.