Arrests in Albania over earthquake deaths in collapsed buildings

By bne IntelliNews December 15, 2019

Nine people were arrested in Albania on December 14 over dozens of deaths in buildings that collapsed as a result of the November 26 earthquake, the police said.

51 people were killed in the strongest earthquake in decades of 6.4 magnitude that hit the Albanian cities of Durres and Thumane. More than 14,000 buildings were damaged.

Nine people were put on the wanted list after 17 arrest warrants were issued by the Durres Prosecution Office. They are suspected of murder and abuse of power.

“There is a suspicion that the damage to these buildings and the consequences on people's lives have been due to the construction being carried out without respecting the rules, norms and standards in the field of construction,” the police said.

Among those arrested are six current or former local administration employees, while five others are on the run. The remaining six people arrested or wanted are local officials, builders and an architecture studio owner.

Two of those arrested on murder charges owned hotels that collapsed in Durres. Both hotels had been built illegally.

The Albanian opposition has accused Prime Minister Edi Rama of “direct responsibility” for the deaths of 24 people caught under the rubble after two apartment blocks collapsed in Thumane.

The apartment blocks in Thumane were declared uninhabitable after an earlier earthquake which took place on September 21.