The EU leads international aid for the recovery of the earthquake in Albania

TIRANA, Albania (AP) - The European Union and the United Nations are coordinating international efforts to help Albania after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that killed 51 people and left thousands of people homeless. Luigi Soreca, EU ambassador to Albania, said Monday that Brussels mobilized the Civil Protection Mechanism on the day of the earthquake, on November 26, with the arrival of many search and rescue teams in the country. Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhacka said that 780 rescuers from the EU and other countries helped not have more lost lives. An EU team leads damage assessment and distribution of aid. Six EU member states have sent 50 structural engineers, with more to come, to assess the damage along with local counterparts. In the midst of sadness, pain and fear, this week has shown the inexhaustible links between Albanians and their friends in the EU, said Soreca. The United States Agency for International Development has also deployed structural engineers from the fire departments of Fairfax County and Los Angeles County to help with damage assessments. The earthquake that hit the Adriatic coast of Albania also injured more than 3,000 people. Authorities give preliminary figures of 7,900 damaged buildings across the country and more than 6,000 homeless refugees in hotels, public buildings, tents and family, while neighboring Kosovo has provided shelter to others. The earthquake has affected approximately 1.9 million people in the country's 2.8 million population, according to the EU office in Tirana. The most affected areas were the port city of Durres, a popular beach vacation spot for Albanians 33 kilometers (20 miles) west of the capital, Tirana, and the nearby northern city of Thumane. Prosecutors have begun an investigation into possible illegal constructions and violations of construction regulations. Bad construction, building code violations and corruption are considered among the main reasons for earthquake damage. The Albanian government has asked the international community for financial help and expert assistance, saying it is unable to do so alone. The most difficult part of this situation begins now because the material damage is really great, Xhacka said before leaving for the NATO summit in London, where Albania will also seek help. Soreca said that in a third phase, Brussels will analyze how it will help Albania rebuild with a medium to long-term perspective. On Thursday, the new European commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, who began his position on Monday, visits Tirana to discuss reconstruction planning. ___ Llazar Semini is on Twitter: This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)