A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck near the coast of Albania on Tuesday, killing at least eight people and injuring 300 in one of the strongest tremors to hit Albania in decades, just two months after the country was struck by another strong quake.
The earthquake on Tuesday was recorded at 3:54 a.m. about 19 miles west of Tirana, the capital, which is home to nearly 900,000 people and where residents reported that they had felt the tremors.
President Ilir Meta called the situation “dramatic” as he visited Thumane, the town closest to the epicenter, where at least two people died. “We hope to overcome it with the least loss,” he wrote in a tweet that included pictures of him talking with locals and an army officer.
Video posted to social media in the aftermath showed damaged buildings.
More than 1.2 million people may have faced “strong” and “very strong” exposure, according to the United States Geological Survey.
As the Albanian authorities requested international assistance, Montenegro and Serbia sent support and rescue teams, according to Prime Minister Edi Rama, who added that various leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, were preparing to help.
Christos Stylianides, the European commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said the European Union was also ready to offer assistance.
A 5.4-magnitude quake struck southern Bosnia and Herzegovina hours after the deadly earthquake in Albania. There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities.
Countries in the Balkans and in southern Europe have a long history of destructive earthquakes. A 7.6-magnitude quake killed 17,000 people in Turkey in 1999; and in 2016, more than 241 people died in a 6.2-magnitude quake in central Italy, seven years after the deadly Abruzzo earthquake that left more than 300 people dead.
The quake in Albania on Tuesday struck two months after a 5.6-magnitude quake injured dozens of people and damaged hundreds of homes in the same area. Officials said that quake, on Sept. 21, was the strongest to strike the country in 30 years, according to Reuters.