By 1 December, there had been 1,300 aftershocks, of which four were greater than M 5.0 and a further twenty-one between M 4 and 5 as of 20:00 (UTC) 3 December[update]. The largest aftershock occurred at 07:08 CET (UTC+1), less than four hours after the mainshock, with a magnitude of M 5.4. This event caused shaking of intensity VII (very strong).
Aftershocks of the 2019 Albania earthquake above Mw 4.0
The damage was mostly in the large port city of Durrës and the village of Kodër-Thumanë, which are near the epicentre of the earthquake. Two hotels and two apartment blocks collapsed in Durrës. Four buildings, including a five-storey apartment block, collapsed in Kodër-Thumanë and the town was hardest hit from the earthquake. The town of Laç was extensively damaged. A state of emergency lasting 30 days was declared by the Albanian government for Durrës, Thumanë and Tirana and later extended to Lezhë and Laç. Aftershocks followed that shook structures ruined during the earthquake and caused concern among locals. Subsequently numerous homes were no longer safe to reside in.
Albanian soldiers, numbering in the hundreds, and some 2,000 Albanian police officers were dispatched to the earthquake affected localities of Thumanë, Durrës, and the nearby wider area. They were tasked to assist with the rescue operation and the installation of shelter facilities for displaced people. Three hundred emergency tents to shelter some 1,000 people have been erected at a sportsfield within Thumanë and close to a stadium in Durrës. Albanian troops working with limited resources rescued people from debris of collapsed structures and they were assisted by 250 troops from the United States and various European countries.
As the last severe earthquake in Albania was in 1979, it lacked expertise in rescue operations. Subsequently, rescue crews with specialised equipment, sniffer dogs and emergency supplies came to Albania from neighbouring countries and other European nations to help in the search efforts and provide for those left homeless. Many homeless people in Kodër-Thumanë spent two nights in tents, refusing to stay in hotels on the Adriatic Sea. Special forces (RENEA) continued searching for several people that were reported missing, and at least 45 individuals were rescued alive from the rubble.
According to official information 51 people were killed - 25 in Durrës, 24 in Thumanë, and 1 each in Kurbin, Lezhë and Tirana. Among the deceased were 7 children aged between 2-8. The aftershocks, some of which were quite large, made it difficult for the search and rescue teams. Albania's Minister of Health Ogerta Manastirliu initially announced over 900 injuries, of which 731 were treated at the hospitals in Tirana and Durrës alone. The Ministry of Health reported that it was caring for 62 injured in stable condition, with the exception of 3 people who are in intensive care. In the aftermath of the event, 5,200 locals were without any shelter.
An Albanian military owned dwelling in Durrës, social centres in Tirana and various privately owned buildings such as 90 gyms in Krujë, Tirana, Lezhë, Durrës and numerous hotels in Vlorë, Durrës and Tirana were adapted and opened to shelter displaced people. Some 2,500 displaced people have been housed in hotels, another 2,100 are in tents, whereas others affected by the earthquake have slept in gyms or their cars. In Durrës, authorities are distributing food throughout the city and reports of complaints emerged that some people had not yet obtained supplies. Due to safety concerns and aftershocks, some people were not allowed to reenter their own homes and became dependent on food donations until engineers checked buildings. Stemming from concerns caused by the earthquake, there were locals who did not want to return to their homes.
Displaced people have been relocated to Kosovo with 500 residing in a former German NATO military base in Prizren refitted as a temporary camp by the Kosovo government. Some displaced people are housed in the Kosovan municipalities of Lipjan numbering 3 families, 11 families with 48 members in Podujevë, 70 people in Malishevë, 150 people in Pristina and others in Gjakova. Other people have gone to eastern Albania. Albanian physicians were also assisting in relief efforts.
Albanian President Ilir Meta, Prime MinisterEdi Rama and opposition leader Lulzim Basha visited the earthquake epicentre to see firsthand the situation and damage. The often fraught political rivalry between Meta, Rama and Basha was put aside as all three were involved in relief efforts. National operational centres were established by the Albanian government along with a phone line for people affected by the earthquake needing clothes or food.
Search and rescue team from Italy working on a collapsed building
Search and rescue team from Romania working on a collapsed building
Emergency tents prepared for displaced people at the Niko Dovana stadium in Durrës
Displaced people housed in emergency tents
On 30 November Prime Minister Rama announced the end of the search and rescue operation, as no more bodies were expected to be under the rubble. According to his statement, about 2,000 people were injured from the earthquake in total, with more than 4,000 being left homeless in the disaster's aftermath. Preliminary figures showed that more than 1,465 buildings in the capital Tirana suffered serious damage, in addition to about 900 in nearby Durrës. The first funeral for the deceased was held on Friday with hundreds of people in attendance including President Meta and Prime Minister Rama.
Earthquake damage is being checked by civil engineers from the European Union, United States and local experts to asses whether buildings are structurally sound, unsafe and required demolition or just needed replastering. Demolition of damaged structures deemed unsafe, some through remote control explosions by the Albanian army, has begun with others to follow suit in future. The Prosecutor's office ordered on Tuesday that it needed lists of damaged buildings from police and municipal authorities before permission was granted for demolition, due to pending investigations. The EU office in Albania estimated that some 1.9 million people out of a total population of 2.8 million have been affected by the earthquake. As of early December, more then 3,000 people are injured, 12,000 are homeless and throughout Albania 7,900 buildings are damaged.
Albanian and EU officials giving a press conference
In Albania, volunteers, along with some small organisations have established drop off points for donations of food, clothing, blankets and hygiene products at prominent landmarks throughout Tirana and used social media to mobilise people to provide assistance. Three humanitarian organisations have sorted and packed the items and sent them through several truckloads for distribution among displaced people of the earthquake zone. Demand is high and citizens have been urged to donate over coming days. Hundreds of Albanians in Albania and Kosovo have opened their homes to people displaced by the earthquake. Some students from Tirana went to assist relief efforts in Durrës and delivered hundreds of meals to earthquake affected people. Residents of Tirana have held a candle light vigil in the city centre in honour of the deceased.
The Albanian government has established a monetary compensation scheme that would give the families of deceased people scholarships to children, pensions for the elderly and 1 million lek ($9,000) for a family. Prime Minister Rama said that the state budget was being reconfigured to manage the situation following the earthquake. Rama stated that the draft budget of 2020 would provide frunds for the construction of homes and cost some 7 billion leke ($63.10 million) or 0.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The exact final ammount is unkown and apart from the aim of getting displaced people into homes, Rama wants reconstructrion to expand economic growth, jobs and consuption. Apart from costs and planned projects already factored in, the government committed itself to no new budgetary expenditure except for irrigation, so as to accumulate funds for reconstruction. Rama has called for additional expert assistance and monetary aid geared toward recovery from the international community stating that Albania lacks the capacity "to do this [reconstruction] alone."
In Albania, a large proportion of the earthquake damage has been blamed on corruption, violations of the building code and substandard construction following the demise of communism during the early 1990s. The Albanian state has drafted a law in the aftermath of the earthquake that would see investors, supervisors and architects go to prison for a period of 7–15 years if proper construction practices are violated. Albanian prosecutors have begun proceedings to investigate violations of regulations and illegal building within the construction industry.
The Albanian state initiated an online fundraising campaign for donations, raising over a million euros. The Socialist party in parliament and members of the Albanian government along with 60 mayors will forgo their salary for November and donate it to the aid effort. In Albania, the Muslim Community of Albania has organised nationwide fundraising for monetary, food and material supplies and opened its mosques and madrasas as a place of shelter for earthquake victims. The Orthodox Church of Albania under Archbishop Anastasios has opened the local monasteries and churches to the people displaced by the earthquake. The Catholic Church in Albania held mass in its churches on 27 and 28 November for earthquake victims and is coordinating its relief efforts through local branches of the Catholic charity Caritas. Football fan groups such as "Kuq e Zi" of the Albanian national team set up an emergency fund and sent volunteers from throughout the coutnry to assist in relief operations. Fan groups from local teams such as "Tirona Fanatics" KF Tirana, "Guerrils" FK Partizani Tirana, KF Vllaznia Shkodër and players from clubs such as FK Kukësi sent food and clothing supplies and expressed solidarity with victims during matches following the first weekdend after the earthquake.
In Kosovo, its ethnic Albanian population has reacted to the earthquake in Albania with sentiments of solidarity, moved in part by memories of solidarity and sanctuary the Albanians of Albania provided them when they fled ethnic cleansing by Serb forces during the 1999 Kosovo war. Kosovo Albanians undertook fundraising initiatives and appeals, collected money, food, clothing and shelter donations. In Pristina, volunteers have established a drop off point in the central square for donations of supplies and several truckloads were sent to displaced people affected by the earthquake. Volunteers and humanitarian aid in trucks, buses and hundreds of cars from Kosovo traveled to Albania to assist in the situation and people were involved in tasks such as the operation of mobile kitchens and gathering financial aid. Kosovo Albanian school children have donated clothes, food, and books. By Friday, more then a 100 tons of supplies donated by Kosovo businesses and civilians had reached Albania. Candle light vigils were held in parts of Kosovo in honour of the deceased. Various football fan groups and their clubs such as "Skifterat" SC Gjilani, "Plisat" FC Prishtina, "Stuhia e Kuqe" KF Arbëria, "Tigrat" KF Ulpiana, "Legjendat" FC Llapi, "Gladiatorët" KF Vushtrria and from KF KEK were involved in collecting donations, mobilising and sending busloads of volunteers to assist in relief efforts.
The Islamic Community of Kosovo organised a fundraising effort on 29 November after Friday prayers across all its mosques within the country and has begun to send several convoys of aid to earthquake victims. The Catholic Church in Kosovo sent members from the local branch of the Catholic charity Caritas to assist in Albania. In Kosovo, the Catholic Church held mass on 1 December across the country and it collected charitable donations by parishioners for earthquake victims and their families. President Hashim Thaçi was part of a presidential delegation that visited the earthquake epicentre and expressed his condolences on behalf of Kosovo. On Friday, outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and his possible successor Albin Kurti visited Durrës to survey the damage and expressed Kosovan commitment to relief efforts and the need for institutional cooperation between both countries.In Serbia, ethnic Albanians of the Preševo valley donated aid and sent it through several convoys to earthquake victims.
Albanians from North Macedonia have responded in large numbers to the Albanian government's appeal for financial assistance through donations to various humanitarian organisations and special bank accounts fundraising for aid. The Islamic Religious Community of Macedonia organised a fundraising effort on 29 November after Friday prayers across all its mosques within North Macedonia. Parliamentary speaker Talat Xhaferi, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and leader of DUIAli Ahmeti were part of a delegation of Albanian politicians from North Macedonia visiting the earthquake epicentre that expressed their condolences to President Meta. The mayor of Čair, Visar Ganiu visited the earthquake epicentre and brought fans known as "Shvercerat" from the football club FK Shkupi to volunteer assistance. Other football fan groups "Ballistët" KF Shkëndija and "Ilirët" KF Bashkimi collected donations and sent busloads of volunteers to assist in relief efforts.
Blue and white coloured emergency tents for displaced people near stadium in Durrës
In Montenegro, ethnic Albanians from Ulcinj are involved in a major relief effort sending items such as food, blankets, diapers and baby milk through a local humanitarian organisation Amaneti and in Tuzi through fundraising efforts. A blood donation effort for earthquake victims was organised by the Bosniak Youth Forum of Montenegro with hundreds of Albanians from Ulcinj partaking in the initiative. In Ulcinj, the Islamic Community of Montenegro is collecting aid for earthquake victims in all mosques of the city and surrounding area.
Various prominent businesses owned by ethnic Albanians in Albania and Kosovo along with notable members of the Albanian community in the Balkans including businessmen, politicians, journalists, actors and socialites have made large financial contributions totaling 13 million dollars for humanitarian aid to Albania. Individual donations by people from 76 countries were also made through online fundraising on the websites GoFundMe and Facebook raising $3,600,000.
Globally, the Albanian diaspora has expressed its solidarity and held multiple fundraisers to send money to Albania and assist people impacted by the earthquake. In the United States, an Albanian-American organisation named Albanian Roots has raised 1.3 million dollars for earthquake victims. Global pop stars with an Albanian background have also appealed to fans for support and donations to the relief effort.. On a separate instance, celebrities of Albanian descent such as Bebe Rexha, Rita Ora, and Dua Lipa, have since pledged support, sent donations, and made visits to the country's most quake-ravaged regions in hopes to rebuild some of the affected areas' infrastructure . Money from the Albanian diaspora has continued to arrive in Albania and Prime Minister Rama has tasked a group of fundraisers, that includes a Muslim imam experienced in housing the needy, to combine the donations and maintain oversight of their usage.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his condolences, called for aid from other Muslim countries and states he will lobby them to give assistance to Albania for future reconstruction. Prime Minister Rama contacted President Erdogan and asked for the creation of an international donors conference with one involving western countries and the other with states from the east. Rama has also written to US President Donald J. Trump and other countries such as Sweden, Malaysia, Japan, Great Britain, Germany and Australia asking for assistance.
President Erdogan, citing close Albanian-Turkish relations, has committed Turkey to reconstructing 500 earthquake destroyed homes in Albania. Discussions between the governments of Albania and Turkey have commenced over the locations in the earthquake hit zone and other details of the Turkish reconstruction effort. Qatar has committed itself to the future reconstruction effort. At the NATO 2019 London summit (3–4 December), constructive discussions were held by Rama with President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other European leaders over establishing an international conference for financial aid. German chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that Germany would provide future assistence.
Turkish and French search and rescue teams coordinating efforts
A number of countries and businesses have offered assistance for relief:
Austria — €600,000 were allocated by the Austrian government for humanitarian aid and future reconstruction to Albania.
Azerbaijan — €500,000 were allocated by the Azerbaijani government for humanitarian aid to Albania.
Bulgaria — €100,000 were allocated by the Bulgarian government for humanitarian aid to Albania. An additional €50,000 worth of aid in the form of 1,000 tents, 1,000 blankets and pillows and other materials were sent as well.
China — Chinese authorities have stated that they will provide future financial assistance. Two Chinese companies have raised €2,000,000 for the relief effort.
Croatia — A search and rescue team, composed of 15 members of the Directorate for Civil Protection of Ministry of Interior and search and rescue dogs, plus two military helicopters was sent to Albania.
Czech Republic - Czech Republic offered assistance to Albania shortly after 9 am, depicting the deployment of one medium USAR team, which has the Czech Fire Rescue Service. The central USAR team from the controller consists of 36 people - cynologists, doctors,technicians, detachment commander, platoon commander, 1 + 9 firemen-rescue teams and statics. Czech Parliament showed solidarity by holding 1 minute silence honoring the victims of earthquake in Albania.
European Union — Albania activated the Civil Protection Mechanism on the day of the earthquake. As such, the EU became involved in the international assistance effort that followed in relation to mobilisation of three teams from Romania, Greece and Italy, aid and the need for structural engineers to evaluate earthquake damage. The EU promised to provide further future assistance to the state and people affected by the earthquake. The EU is working with the United Nations to cordinate earthquake relief assistence. The EU has allocated €15,000,000 for earthquake relief in Albania and it will send 200 individuals to assist with the rebuilding process.
Estonia — €50,000 were allocated by the Estonian government for future reconstruction in Albania.
Greece — Two earthquake expert ΕΜΑΚ (Special Units for Disaster Management) units consisting of 40 members and search and rescue dogs were deployed, along with trucks, and one C-130 airplane with food parcels. In addition, doctors and medicines were sent in order to help and support the civilians. Moreover, three military mobile kitchens together with their personnel were sent. Greece also sent a team of civil engineers to assess damage, and a team of surgeons to operate on the injured. The Greek teams pulled two people alive from the ruins.Greek Red Cross teams assisted with humanitarian needs and issues related to the quake, such as 800 blankets, 800 mattresses, rugs and hundreds of backpacks with various personal items. Furthermore, there were independent initiatives by schools, educational institutes, local governments such as the Municipality of Patras and regional governments such as the Periphery of Central Macedonia, for additional gathering of emergency aid for Albania. Additional aid was gathered by local associations, such as the "Albanians of Zakynthos Association", in response of the local populations to Leonard Petritaj's pleas. Fans of the Greek football team Hercules announced that members of their association travelled to Albania with emergency supplies for the earthquake victims. On December 3, 2019, a large-scale initiative named "All Together We Can" was completed successfully, in cooperation with the Periphery of Attica, the Greek Red Cross, and the Albanian Embassy in Athens. The response of the Greek people was "huge" and resulted in the gathering of 250 tons of emergency supplies for the affected in Albania. Prime Minister Rama thanked "the Greek people", expressed admiration for the Greek rescuers, and stated that he hoped "we can be like you one day".
Hungary — In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Hungary sent €33,000 worth of aid consisting of self-heating food packages, blankets, camp beds, sleeping beds and tents. Hungary sent a second consignment of similar supplies worth €62,520 to Albania. In early December, a group of seven Hungarian engineers and structural specialists were sent to survey earthquake damaged structures in Albania.
Israel — Israel has sent a rescue and service team from the regional council of Mevo'ot HaHermon to Albania. Some days after the earthquake Israel sent 10 troops from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to assess buildings on whether they are structurally sound.
Kosovo[a] — Outgoing Prime Minister Haradinaj allocated €500,000 on behalf of the Kosovo government to Albania for humanitarian aid and over €3,500,000 were sent by the Kosovar population. 110 specialised operators of the Kosovo Police were dispatched, as were 40 members of the Kosovo Security Force's (KSF) Urban Search and Rescue Units. The Kosovo Finance Ministry allocated €10,000 to the families of 2 earthquake victims from Gjilan, Kosovo. The municipality of Pristina sent €50,000 in humanitarian aid and engineers to asses damaged buildings. The municipalities of Gjakova sent €14,000, Kaçanik €10,000, Malishevë €5,000, Klina €5,000, Dragash €5,000, Mitrovica €20,000 and Obiliq sent €15,000 and supplies of packaged food.Skënderaj muncipality sent €20,000 and an additional €40,000 was raised from local donations of which €5,000 was allocated to the families of 2 earthquake victims from Kosovo.Gllogoc muncipality sent €10,000 and an additional €12,000 was raised from local businesses.Deçan municipality fundraised €20,000 from its citizens for relief efforts and sent 6 trucks with clothing and food to Albania. The Trepça and Artana Mines sent rescuers and the Kosovo Energy Corporation (KEK) sent a fire brigade unit. The Kosovo Liberation Army War Veterans' Organisation sent €5,000 for humanitarian aid. At an awards ceremony on 4 December in Kosovo, President Meta on behalf of Albania expressed its gratitude and thanked Kosovo for its civilian, business, state and political contributions "to support their Albanian brothers and sisters". Meta awarded all members of the KSF, the Golden Medal of the Eagle and made the Kosovo Police Special Operations Unit part of the National Flag Order to honour their assistance to the relief effort. Meta also awarded the Particular Civil Merits Medal to the KSF K9 unit, the Artana and Trepça Mine rescue units, the team from the Kosovo Energy Corporation and to a team from the Kosovo Fire Brigade. Haradinaj in turn awarded Meta the Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg Medal and stated that "when we are united, no earthquake can weaken us".
Montenegro — Montenegro sent 18 rescue service specialists. Podgorica and Bar municipalities each donated 20,000 euros for humanitarian aid. Albanian majority municipalities of Montenegro such as Ulcinj sent €10,000 and firefighting teams and newly formed Tuzi sent €3,000.
North Macedonia — North Macedonia sent €100,000 in financial aid, as well as drones with thermal cameras to search for survivors under the rubble. Rescue teams were also sent, as well as mechanical equipment to clear the rubble. Albanian majority municipalities of North Macedonia such as Tetovo sent humanitarian aid and 500,000 denars, Struga 1,000,000 denars, Debar 300,000 denars, Kičevo €12,000, Želino €5,000 and did additional fundraising, Čair sent firefighters and Gostivar sent humanitarian aid and teams of firefighters and doctors. Majority Macedonian municipalities with an Albanian minority such as Jegunovce sent €1,500 and Gazi Baba €5,000 for relief efforts.
Serbia — The Special Search and Rescue Team, as well as first aid, was sent to Albania.
Switzerland — 15 specialists of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) were sent to support Albanian emergency forces. The Swiss sent 130 beds and 30 tents for people of the Durres area and 280 beds and 70 tents for the Kurbin region. Switzerland has sent engineers to assess the structural integrity of earthquake affected buildings.
Turkey — The day after the earthquake Turkey sent assistance and used local branches of its aid agency Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in Albania and Kosovo to coordinate distribution and deliver aid. Turkey sent one Airbus Atlas airplane with 28 search and rescue personnel, three vehicles, dozens of hygiene kits and tents, and a total of 500 blankets and 500 food packs containing flour, sugar, pasta, oil, rice, beans and other products to the victims of the earthquake. Turkey intends to distribute 3,000 blankets and 3,000 food packages over several days. Fifteen search and rescue personnel operated in Durrës looking for survivors trapped in rubble. Other Turkish rescue teams provided medical assistance to quake survivors. AFAD humanitarian and Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) teams erected tents and assisted with other needs and issues related to the quake. The TRC was involved in the providing assistence to the earthquake hit town of Vorë and the village of Bubq. On Tuesday, a supply of tents were delivered by a Turkish airplane for villagers who want to remain near their animals and land during the winter. In Kosovo, Turkey's Kosovo Force (KFOR) contingent provided relief efforts of food, clothing and other assistence to 500 displaced people housed in a camp at Prizren. Prime Minister Rama expressed his "gratitude to Turkey and President Erdoğan" and further stated that the "Albanian people will never forget Turkey's help".
United Arab Emirates — The UAE in its initial assistance sent sheltering, food and medical supplies for 555,000 people. The Emirates Red Crescent will distribute additional relief assistance from the UAE worth Dh13 million to people impacted by the earthquake.
United States —United States Army personnel from the Civil-Military Support Element, Kosovo, arrived in Albania to support relief efforts. The US sent engineers to asses damaged buildings. USAID provided the Albanian Red Cross with a grant for immediate relief efforts and supplies such as hygiene kits and blankets to displaced people. Due to stocks depleting, the United States European Command (EUCOM) is going to send additional disaster equipment and other materiel to Albania. Children affected by the earthquake will also receive psychosocial support services from UNICEF whose funding comes from USAID. Prime Minister Rama regarded the contribution of aid by the US as "postive". The Soros Open Society Foundations through its branch in Albania donated €500,000 for relief efforts.