A 4.5 magnitude earthquake hit the central Italian region of Mugello on Monday, sending panicked residents into the streets but causing minimal damage to buildings.
The quake, centred some 31 km (19 miles) northeast of Florence in Tuscany, hit at 4:37 am (0330 GMT), after a series of smaller quakes, according to the national institute for geophysics and vulcanology (INGV).
Residents fled their buildings in the rain, congregating outside or in their cars to await authorities.
“The quake went on for awhile, especially the first one, things fell down at a supermarket but for the moment we haven’t seen any damage to people or things,” said Filippo Carla’ Campa, mayor of the town of Vicchio.
A resident of Barberino del Mugello said his neighbours were panicking getting out of the building.
“Paintings fell off the walls, bookcases fell over,” he told Rai 24.
In Barberino del Mugello, the 17th century church suffered a crack in one side, television images showed.
Schools were closed in the region and some trains through Florence were cancelled or delayed.
Italy is frequently struck by seismic activity, often devastating. Most recently, a series of strong quakes hit central Italy in late 2016 and early 2017, killing 300 people.
In 1919, the area was hit by an earthquake that killed 100 people.
The death toll from the most powerful earthquake to strike Albania in decades rose to 40 on Thursday, after 10 more bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight, the defence ministry said.
The 6.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the Balkan state before dawn on Tuesday, levelling buildings and trapping bodies underneath the wreckage in towns near the Adriatic coast.
“Ten more victims were found during the night, bringing the number of dead to 40,” the ministry said in a statement.
With the help of experts flown in from across Europe, rescuers have been working tirelessly to clear away the debris of collapsed apartments and hotels in the coastal city of Durres and the town of Thumane, the two areas hardest hit by the quake.
Forty-six people have been pulled out alive so far and have been hospitalised, the defence ministry spokeswoman told AFP.
The number of people who may still be buried in the rubble is unknown.
Hundreds of aftershocks have continued to rattle the country, sparking panic and temporarily halting search efforts.
Among some 650 who were injured, at least 10 are seriously wounded, the health ministry said.
Thousands have been displaced, either because their homes were severely damaged or because it is still unsafe to return home because of the aftershocks.
Albanian rescuers searched rubble through the night looking for survivors trapped in buildings that toppled Tuesday in the strongest earthquake to hit the country in decades, with more than 20 dead and hundreds injured.
Teams of soldiers, police and emergency workers sifted through the debris of shredded apartment blocks and hotels in towns near Albania’s northwest Adriatic coast, close to the epicentre of the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that rattled the country before dawn.
By evening the toll was 22 dead, according to the defence ministry.
Most were pulled from wreckage in the coastal city of Durres and Thumane, a town north of the capital Tirana.
In neighbouring Kurbin a man in his fifties died in the morning after jumping from his building in panic. Another perished in a car accident after the earthquake tore open parts of the road, the ministry said.
More than 40 people have also been retrieved alive in marathon rescue efforts that continued with headlamps and spotlights after the sun went down.
“The rescue teams will continue all night,” defence ministry spokeswoman Albana Qehajaj told AFP.
“We must be careful because the night makes any operation more difficult,” she added.
Earlier in Thumane, locals watching emergency workers comb over a collapsed building shouted the names of their loved ones still inside: “Mira!”, “Ariela!”, “Selvije!”.
Dulejman Kolaveri, a man in his 50s in Thumane, told AFP he feared his 70-year-old mother and six-year-old niece were trapped inside the five-storey apartment, because they lived on the top floor.
“I don’t know if they are dead or alive. I’m afraid of their fate… only God knows,” he said with trembling hands.
There were also brief bursts of joy during the day as rescuers delicately extracted survivors.
One thin, middle-aged man covered in a film of grey dust was seen being carried out of the rubble on a stretcher in Thumane.
In Durres, onlookers cheered “Bravo!” as a team used ropes to rescue a young man from the wreckage of a toppled seaside hotel in a two-hour operation.
Night In The stadium
Afraid to return home after a series of powerful aftershocks, hundreds of people in Durres took shelter for the night in tents set up in the city’s football stadium.
The health ministry said that more than 600 people have received first aid for injuries, mostly minor.
During a visit to victims in a hospital in Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama told local media that Wednesday would be a national “day of mourning”.
“We have lost human lives, we have also saved a lot of lives,” he said.
Some 300 local soldiers and 1,900 police were sent to Durres and Thumane to assist with the rescue efforts, according to authorities.
Aid also poured in from around Europe, with teams from Italy, Greece and Romania among those deployed to help.
Albania’s cities and coastline have undergone rapid development in recent decades, and illegal construction ignoring building codes is rife.
Felt Across the Balkans
Tuesday’s quake was the strongest to hit the Durres region since 1926, seismologist Rrapo Ormeni told local television.
Albanian authorities described it as the most powerful in the last 20-30 years.
It struck at 3:54 am local time (0254 GMT), with an epicentre 34 kilometres (about 20 miles) northwest of Tirana, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
In Tirana, panicked residents ran out onto the streets and huddled together after the quake struck.
Several powerful aftershocks followed, including one of 5.3 magnitude.
The tremors were felt across the Balkans, from Sarajevo to Belgrade and the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad almost 700 kilometres away, according to reports in local media and on social networks.
The Balkan peninsula lies near the fault line of two large tectonic plates — the African and Eurasian — and earthquakes are frequent.
The movements of the small Adriatic micro-plate also produces earthquakes, according to Kresimir Kuk from the Croatian seismological institute.
The most devastating quake in recent times hit North Macedonia’s capital Skopje in July 1963, killing around a thousand people and destroying some 80 percent of the city.
Survivors of Japan’s so-called “triple disaster”, the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, told Pope Francis on Monday they were “thankful for being given life” and urged solidarity with victims.
Toshiko Kato was at her job as head of a Catholic kindergarten in Iwate region when the quake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. The massive waves that killed nearly 16,000 people caused enormous destruction, including sweeping away her home.
“That morning, I could not have known that the daily life I had known before I left the house would end, that in an instant many people would die,” she told Francis.
“I remember that when I stood in the rubble where my home had been, I was thankful for being given life, for being alive, and for just being able to appreciate it.”
And Kato said she felt she had “received much more than I lost.”
“Many people from all over the world opened their hearts and I was able to find hope from seeing people come together to help one another,” she said.
“Life is the most important thing, and no good life is lost.”
The human cost of the quake and tsunami was enormous — with 18,500 dead or missing. The meltdown itself killed no one, but more than 3,700 people who survived the triple disaster later died as a result of complications related to evacuations.
Nearly half a million people fled their homes in the first days after the quake and even today, roughly 50,000 remain in temporary housing.
‘I Wanted To Die’
Among those forced to evacuate was Matsuki Kamoshita, who was eight when the nuclear meltdown happened.
His father, a teacher, remained in Fukushima region to help his students, while Kamoshita and his three-year-old brother moved from place to place with their mother.
“My brother would burrow into his futon and cry. I was bullied… and every day was so painful I wanted to die,” he told Francis, speaking steadily before the crowd.
“Eventually, my father got mentally and physically ill and stopped working. Even so, I still think we are fortunate because we were able to evacuate.”
Japan’s government has been encouraging people who evacuated to return to areas that have now been declared safe after extensive decontamination.
But many fear their former homes are not really safe, and others are reluctant to return to what have in some cases become ghost towns, with few services, particularly for young families.
In his address to survivors, Francis called for renewed efforts to support the victims of the disaster.
“In this way, those who are suffering will be supported and know that they have not been forgotten,” he said.
“We cannot fully convey our suffering,” Kamoshita told Francis, who he hugged after delivering his remarks.
“Pray with us, Holy Father, that we can appreciate each other’s pain and love our neighbours. Pray that even in this cruel reality, we will be given the courage not to turn our eyes away.”
A child was killed in a strong 6.4-magnitude quake that hit the southern Philippines on Wednesday, a local mayor said, as houses collapsed, power was knocked out and a shopping mall burst into flames.
Residents evacuated homes and buildings across the Mindanao region including a mall that caught fire in the city of General Santos shortly after the quake struck in the evening, officials said.
The child died in a house collapse in the town of Datu Paglas, while four residents of nearby Tulunan town were injured when at least two other houses fell down, Tulunan Mayor Reuel Limbungan told AFP.
“The child was crushed by a collapsed house wall” and pronounced dead in hospital, Limbungan said, adding that he had visited the medical facility and spoken to its director.
Rescue and local officials said there were no immediate reports of deaths elsewhere in Mindanao, and rescue official Anthony Allada told local television that 20 people were treated for injuries in the town of Magsaysay, near the epicentre.
The quake was 14 kilometres (8.6 miles) deep and was followed by at least two aftershocks, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
“It was the most powerful earthquake I have ever experienced,” Sara Duterte, mayor of the largest Mindanao city of Davao and daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, told local television.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
An elderly man was treated for injuries after being struck by a falling object as a Davao mall was evacuated, local TV reported.
Jerome Barranco, civil defence officer for the region, said several people were also injured in the city of Kidapawan “as a result of falling debris”.
In General Santos, television footage showed firemen battling a raging blaze that engulfed the three-storey Gaisano shopping mall.
It was not known if there were still people inside the building, which was evacuated as the quake struck.
Coastal residents of Davao fled their homes in fear of a tsunami, but rescue workers were trying to convince them to return as no warning was issued, city civil defence chief Rodrigo Bustillo told local television.
“Our volunteers are out to calm the people and tell them there is no tsunami,” Bustillo added.
Chief Philippine government seismologist Renato Solidum said there was no risk of a tsunami because it occurred inland, but he advised residents to check their homes for possible damage.
“We ran out of the police station, and we also let the inmates at the municipal jail out,” patrolwoman Celina Sarte told AFP by telephone from the town of Bansalan.
She said the 10 prisoners were put in handcuffs outside moments later.
At least 19 people have been killed and 300 wounded after a shallow earthquake rattled north-eastern Pakistan, a senior police officer said, with the tremor tearing car-sized cracks into roads and heavily damaging infrastructure.
The quake sent people in cities across the country running into the streets, as cars near the epicentre were wedged in between massive cracks that ripped apart roads while other vehicles were upended by the tremor.
The epicentre of the 5.2-magnitude quake was near the Kashmiri city of Mirpur, roughly 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Jhelum in agricultural Punjab province, according to data released by the US Geological Survey.
On one of the district’s two main roads, AFP reporters could see cracks at least four feet deep, some filling with water from a nearby canal.
Ambulances could be seen, but Pakistani troops were preventing further travel. The military deployed “aviation and medical support” teams along with troops to affected areas in Kashmir, according to its spokesman.
Television footage showed cars trapped in some of the cracks, as well as a bus and a truck lying on their sides at the road’s edge.
“At least 19 people have been killed and more than 300 wounded,” said Sardar Gulfaraz, deputy inspector general of police in Mirpur, in televised comments.
However, the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority gave a lower toll at a press conference in Islamabad.
“I can confirm 10 deaths and the number of wounded is 100,” chairman Lieutenant General Mohammad Afzal said, adding that he had received reports of a higher toll.
“Things are under control,” he said, adding that the nearby Mangla Dam, one of Pakistan’s two main water reservoirs, was unaffected by the quake.
The prime minister of Pakistani Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider Khan, told reporters that infrastructure had been “destroyed”.
Roads, mobile phone towers, and electricity poles in the area were badly damaged, Naeem Chughtai, a Mirpur resident living near the city’s main hospital, told AFP.
Witnesses Sajjad Jarral and Qazi Tahir, who spoke to AFP by telephone from Mirpur, said the quake had caused a building to collapse.
Mirpur, a city known for its palatial houses, has strong ties to Britain with the majority of its 450,000 residents carrying both British and Pakistani passports.
A spokeswoman at the British High Commission told AFP they were monitoring the reports, while the US embassy offered its sympathies to those affected via Twitter.
Tremors were felt as far as New Delhi, with the Press Trust of India reporting that panicked people rushed out of their homes and offices in several places, including in Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana.
“The earthquake was felt but there are no reports of any damage,” Amir Ali, from the disaster management department in Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
With Indian-held Kashmir’s mobile and internet services mostly cut off after the region’s autonomy was stripped by New Delhi in early August, people used social media to express fears about not being able to get in touch with their families in the valley.
“Dear @AmitShah (Home Affairs Minister) please restore mobile services in Kashmir I do not know any update since Aug 5 about my family. We are now feeling so anxious about our family in aftermath of Earthquake,” Faizan Peer tweeted.
Pakistan straddles part of the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
In October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed almost 400 people, flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.
The country was also hit by a 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005, that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
A strong earthquake hit Albania Saturday afternoon, forcing residents into the street in several cities, triggering power cuts in the capital and the collapse of some buildings in a nearby village.
“There are no deaths,” Albania’s defence ministry spokeswoman Albana Qajaj said.
“Some 20 people went to the hospital for light injuries caused by (falling) objects or parts of walls as well as for panic attacks,” she told AFP.
She added that houses and buildings in Tirana had been damaged but were still standing and that the ministry was accessing damage in other towns and villages.
Albania’s defence ministry said it was “the strongest earthquake in the country in last 20 to 30 years”.
The epicentre of the quake, with a magnitude of 5.6 and a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), was located near Durres, less than 40 kilometres west of the capital Tirana, according to the US Geological Survey.
AFP reporters and witnesses saw windows broken and deep fissures in the facades of buildings in Durres, as well as in the capital. Merchandise in a supermarket was seen strewn over the floor.
Falling masonry had damaged parked cars in Tirana.
At the University of Tirana, the building housing the geology department was also damaged, according to witnesses.
Media reported that a big building in Tirana was seriously damaged and that residents were being evacuated.
According to local media reports, at least two people were lightly injured and a dozen houses collapsed in the village of Helmes, 10 kilometres from Tirana.
In Tirana, many people fearful of aftershocks remained outside their homes for several hours.
“I fear to return because such a strong earthquake could be followed with others,” a resident in her fifties, Drita Lohja, told AFP.
Two other earthquakes followed the strong one that occurred at around 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) and was felt in neighbouring Montenegro and Italy, but also on the Greek island of Corfu according to some Twitter users.
Electricity and telephone lines were cut off in Tirana and a number of other towns and villages.
Four more people were injured and over 1,000 evacuated to temporary shelters, said officials, including residents of neighbouring Sumatra island.
More than 100 buildings were damaged, with some 34 houses destroyed, the agency added.
“There was thundering noise — it sounded like a plane overhead — and I was just so scared that I ran,” said 69-year-old Isah, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, at an evacuation shelter in Pandeglang at the southwest end of Java.
In December, the area was hit by a volcano-sparked tsunami that killed over 400 people.
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island killed more than 2,200 people, with another thousand declared missing.
On December 26, 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 across the Indian Ocean region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.