By Stefan J. Bos
Amid scattered debris, thousands of Albanians face a significant challenge. At least hundreds of homes and other buildings are damaged across
Albania and a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook parts of this impoverished Balkan nation. Scores of people were rushed to hospitals.
The epicenter of Saturday's quake, with a depth of 10 kilometers, some six miles, was located near the port city of Durres, west of the capital Tirana.
Rescue workers are now inspecting the damage including broken windows and deep fissures in the facades of buildings in Durres and Tirana.
It also knocked out telephone lines as well as power and water facilities in Tirana, Durres and towns and villages across western and central districts.
Many Albanians spent the night in the open, too afraid to return home. An aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 also sent residents running out of homes and apartments.
That wasn't all. Authorities say more than 100 aftershocks followed the Saturday afternoon quake.
Defense Minister Olta Xhacka, speaking at a Cabinet meeting Sunday that felt one of the aftershocks, said "luckily oil wells were not damaged."
Located along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania is earthquake-prone and registers seismic activity every few days.
But Albania's defense ministry said Saturday's quake was "the strongest" in the country in some 30 years.
Premier cancels trip
Prime Minister Edi Rama canceled a trip to the United Nations annual meeting and returned to Albania to deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
Authorities said town halls have now opened shelters for people unable to go inside their homes.
But the massive quake could not have come at a worse moment for Albania.
It is among Europe's most impoverished nations.