Albania Earthquake: Order of Malta on site to assist

Albania Earthquake

Ambassador in Tirana: teams of Albanian volunteers immediately mobilized to assist displaced persons

While the death toll following the devastating earthquake that struck Albania last Tuesday continues to rise – 49 dead and 750 injured – the Order of Malta’s Albanian relief corps is on site to assist the hundreds of displaced persons (3,480 in all).

“Our teams were active from the early morning of 26th November,” said the Order of Malta’s Ambassador to Albania Stefano Palumbo, “Fifteen volunteers, doctors, nurses and first-aid operators organised the distribution of basic necessities and offered psychological assistance to the first 1200 displaced persons gathered in the Duress stadium”. In the port city, the epicentre of the earthquake, over 700 houses have been damaged or completely destroyed.

“The Order of Malta’s volunteers distributed water, food and first-aid kits together with blankets and camp beds,” added Ambassador Palumbo, also explaining that the Order is in constant contact with Caritas Albania and with representatives of the Catholic Church who had arrived on the site to provide first-aid.

The Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps (CISOM) has also been mobilised, sending a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to assess the damage. The team met the Minister of Health and Social Affairs and the Director General of National Health Emergencies. The first task of the CISOM volunteers was to organize the transport of the sick from the stadium, where a temporary first-aid camp has been set up, to the Durres hospital, which unfortunately was evacuated yesterday following a strong aftershock. Today the CISOM team is in Thumane, a small town near Durres, and will then go on to the nearby camps of Lac and Fushe Kruje.

The Order of Malta’s ambassador to Albania is in contact with the Prime Minister’s office, with the director of the Port Authority in Durres and with the apostolic nuncio. The Order of Malta’s Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, yesterday sent a message of condolence to the President of the Republic Ilir Meta.