3 december 2019
Dear sisters and brothers,
This is an update of the situation, following the deadly earthquake that hit Albania on Nov. 26th, 2019, and the letter we sent you all on Nov. 28th.
We have felt your prayers during these difficult days for our country. Thank you for being with us in this hard time, and for keeping Albania. Today we have an official response from the state, regarding the damage of the earthquake. The death toll reached 51, over 900 wounded and injured. There are 29 people still in hospitals; 26 under medical care in Albania and 3 of them who are more seriously injured, abroad. Right now, thousands of homeless people are being moved from shelters to hotels, but hundreds remain in tents and hundreds more have been taken to eastern areas of Albania, and Kosovo. The emergency state has now been declared also in Lezha and Kurbin (Lac). In prayer that the 51 people who lost their lives are now in the peace of God, providing aid to survivors has now become the focus.
According the report of today:
3000 persons are accommodated in hotels and 1000 in state buildings, such as fitness and social centers. 3000 to 4000 have fled from their damaged areas and live with relatives. In rural areas there are 1700 people living in individual tents because they have to take care of their livestock. The evaluation of the damaged buildings has started and it will be a long process. European Union (EU) bodies and individual countries are participating directly in the field with structural engineers, expertise and tools. There are hundreds of engineers including locals and many from Kosovo and Western Europe organized in teams checking every building. About 4000 houses are heavily damaged or ruined and less damaged more than 3000 until now. Big buildings (apartments blocks) 481 heavily damaged and 324 less damaged. A reconstruction commission has been established, with members from government, different national and international organizations, medias, engineers, constructors.
Repeated aftershocks keep coming, and this makes it difficult to get over the fear and panic. This has made many to flee the areas. Even though the experts say that aftershocks are normal, people continue to be in panic. Schools are all closed, and the country is mourning. May God intervene to stop this and may our country see the light in the midst of darkness.
Regarding our church, we are thankful to witness that sisters and brothers are fine in the 6 church groups, even though in pain and despair. Dena was doing home visits yesterday in Bathore and the situation is serious. Two houses of our community are totally destroyed, but the good news is that they will be totally rebuilt by the state. They started already today, thank God. Other old houses are damaged, but considering everything we are watching around, we still say: Thank you God for being merciful with us!
Our Church has supported Durres with about 300 kg warm clothes and blankets, wheelchairs, crutches, and we are still collecting food, hygiene materials and winter clothes. It is a great comfort for us to know that our pastor Jørgen Bøytler is coming on December 12-14 in Albania, to see the situation and visit some of the affected areas. With him we will draft an action plan, and see how and where we can be of help.
As a church, we need to spread hope and courage to our people, so please also lift us all, including the leaders in your prayers, so we can help those who need us and who God brings to us.
Peace and grace,
Your sisters and brothers in Albania