Exclusive: Tourist's personal story of Albania quake - 'I only heard the crush of collapsing roofs'

Baran was visiting Durres as a tourist when the earthquakes struck
Baran was visiting Durres as a tourist when the earthquakes struck Copyright Barış Baran from Durres
Copyright Barış Baran from Durres
By Rachael KennedyBarış Baran
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In this first person piece for Euronews, a Turkish holidaymaker describes the moments as the earthquake was felt where he was staying in Durres, and what he witnessed in the hours after.


The strongest earthquake to hit Albania in decades has killed at least six people and injured hundreds more people in the country's western region.

Four separate quakes struck around 4 a.m. local time on Tuesday, the largest being a magnitude-6.4 quake which collapsed buildings and sent locals running into the streets.

Exclusively on Euronews, a Turkish tourist describes how he felt as the earthquake struck the port city of Durres — one of the worst-affected areas — and the events he witnessed as the hours after passed.

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The city of Durres is situated just south of the earthquake's epicentreGoogle Maps

Barış Baran in Durres

"I was staying at my friend's small squatter house in Durres when the first quake hit at around 3.30 a.m.

It only lasted around 8-10 seconds, but myself, my friend, and our families all walked outside anyway just in case. We waited for ten minutes before going back inside to sleep.

The second earthquake came half an hour later — and by that moment I was awake. I felt every second of it.

There were crushing sounds coming from the roof and a nearby garden wall collapsed. I didn't hear any screaming voices — it was just the crushing of roofs and balconies.

Barış Baran
A nearby garden wall collapsed after the first few tremorsBarış Baran

These tremors were doubly frightening for me because I also lived through an earthquake in Istanbul back in September. I think this part of the Earth must be 'boiling'.

After this tremor, I left the house with my journalist friend Isa and we began to take many photos to document the scenes around us.

He was broadcasting in Albanian to his Facebook page while I was taking pictures, and we walked together to a large city avenue.

Euronews has also spoken to Isa Myzyraj, who is originally from Durres. He said he and his family were left "frightened and shocked" by the events, and said many people had been trapped in their homes.

Until around 7 a.m., there were many small, repeated, tremors. But the people weren't frightened by these.

That was until the next tremor came.

Barış Baran
Baris spent the morning capturing pictures of the damage with his friendBarış Baran
Barış Baran
Buildings were damaged and cracked during the series of quakesBarış Baran

It was just after 7 a.m. and we were sitting with lots of other people at a cafe drinking coffee to rest for a little while.

This was when we started to feel a stronger earthquake shaking us again, and this time lasting more than ten seconds.

It was also at this point that people were getting really stressed and panicked — throughout the morning we have been getting more scared and frightened as the new earthquakes come.

In particular, there was a feeling of great panic among the young communities here, but the older populations worked hard to keep their families calm.

The damage to buildings before this tremor had also been average — it wasn't too bad — but afterwards it got much worse.

Barış Baran
Some of the buildings had totally collapsedBarış Baran
Barış Baran

Everyone started racing to reach their cars and leave the city after this strong tremor, leaving huge backlogs in traffic along Paveresia Avenue.

I managed to count at least three totally collapsed buildings on that avenue, while almost 15 had suffered heavy damage, and residents could be seen fleeing from them holding packages.

There were at least three injured people I saw being put into ambulances for treatment.

If I could ask for anything now, it would be for some international solidarity. I ask for this because when I asked the residents of the damaged buildings today what they would do, they could only say: "We don't know yet.

"But we have no other place to go. We will eventually have to turn back to our houses."

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