At least 26 are reported dead and 650 injured in the most powerful earthquake to hit Albania in decades. The 6.4-magnitude quake struck shortly before 4:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, November 26, some 19 miles (30 kilometers) west of the capital city of Tirana.
Leo España, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Albania, states that church members have reported being safe. Still, there is severe damage to some buildings and houses, especially in the city of Durres, close to the epicenter of the earthquake.
On behalf of both church members and the larger population of Albania, España expressed thanks for all the prayers and messages of support that are already coming in. “We are praying for protection and have set a schedule to pray together as a church,” he said.
“We are having aftershocks, and people are afraid and prefer to stay outside,” España added.
Albania has 439 Adventist members serving a population of 2.8 million in a country where the average income is less than a third of the European Union average. Among the Adventist initiatives in the country are health and education programs. In addition, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) operates a highly regarded Kindergarten in Tirana.
Located in an open area, the Kindergarten building appears unharmed. España said that church leaders will soon check Adventist church buildings and expresses “thanks to God for protecting our church families.”
ADRA Europe is already in consultation with colleagues on the ground and is working on an initial response strategy. It is something, leaders of the organization said, that will include support for families affected by the earthquake in Fushe Kruja. The emergency response team will distribute tents, clothes, blankets, portable beds, and second-hand clothes.
For those wishing to contribute, the best way to help is via a donation through a local ADRA office, leaders said.