By Linda Bordoni
The northern coast of Albania was struck by a deadly 6.4 magnitude earthquake on the night of 25 November. Most of the death and destruction occurred in the port city of Durres and in Thumane, close to the epicentre.
The earth is still shaking and rescue teams are combing the rubble.
According to the Albanian Red Cross at least 47 people were killed in the quake and many are still missing. At least 600 more were injured and hundreds of people have been left homeless.
Pope Francis’s 100,000 euro donation, made through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will be used for a first-phase emergency response. It has been distributed to dioceses affected by the quake for immediate relief and assistance.
On Wednesday the Pope prayed for the earthquake victims during his General Audience in St Peter’s Square: “I would like to send a greeting and my closeness to the dear Albanian people, who have suffered so much in these days,” he said, recalling that Albania was the first country in Europe that he chose to visit. “I am close to the victims, I pray for the dead, for the wounded, for the families. May the Lord bless this people whom I love so much," he said.
He also sent a telegramme to the President of the nation assuring Albanians of his closeness in prayer and bestowing his blessings upon the emergency personnel in their relief efforts.
The commitment of the Catholic Church in support of the earthquake victims
The contribution of the Dicastery, which accompanies the Pope's prayer for the people of Albania, is part of a wider effort on the part of the Catholic Church engaging various Bishops’ Conferences and numerous charities.