Three days after an earthquake that killed at least 46 people, the port city of Durres is being abandoned by its residents.
Constant aftershocks to Tuesday’s earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale have terrified the city of 200,000 people, and turned it into a ghost town.
Apartment buildings near the coast were empty by Friday, some with walls missing and pillars bulging outwards.
“Half of the city has already evacuated,” opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha told Al Jazeera as he toured Durres. “People are terrorised … Hundreds have been hospitalised and hundreds of families have lost their homes.”
The government has teams of engineers inspecting buildings for safety, but the process could take weeks.
Like tens of thousands of people, seamstress Vera Kushta now spends evenings walking outside and sleeps in her car at night, avoiding her house even though it is intact. She says her neighbours have mostly left.
“People say the sea will rise up and drown Durres. Everyone is saying it,” she said.
Durres was especially hard hit, because the earthquake’s epicentre was only 10 miles offshore and 10 kilometres underground.
All of the fatalities and collapses of multi-storey buildings took place in Durres and in the town of Thumane to the northeast.
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