Albania's November quake caused $1.1 billion in damages

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) — A disaster report says the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit Albania in November caused $1.1 billion in damages as well as killing 51 people and leaving 17,000 others homeless.

The assessment report presented Wednesday was prepared by 60 Albanian and international experts from the European Union, World Bank and the United Nations. The report will be key for the Feb. 17 international donors’ conference that the European Commission will hold in Brussels.

Bledi Cuci, Albanian minister in charge of post-quake efforts, said damage from the Nov. 26 quake was calculated at about 985 million euros ($1.1 billion) and reconstruction needs at almost 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion).

The earthquake damaged some 83,000 buildings, destroying more than 11,000 of them, affecting more than 200,000 people in the western districts of Durres and Lezhe and in the capital of Tirana.

Cuci said the government has allocated $200 million (180 million euros), the EU already has given Albania 13 million euros ($14 million) in grants and civic organizations are also contributing.

“The donors’ conference is one of the most important moments for the reconstruction process,” said Cuci.

Natalia Rodriguez, an international expert, said Albania's housing, education and infrastructure were the hardest-hit areas.

The Albanian government has pledged to complete reconstruction of all houses in rural areas this year and in specific urban areas in 2021. The general earthquake reconstruction process will continue for five years.

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