In Albania, a Race to Save Lives on Ground That Keeps Shaking

In Albania, a Race to Save Lives on Ground That Keeps Shaking

Along with very real concerns and the ongoing danger brought by aftershocks, the government was also contending with false stories stirring fear on social media.

Mr. Rama issued a warning to those spreading lies on social media.

“I will be forced to intervene to close them down up until the end of this emergency situation if they continue to publish fake news causing panic,” he said.

After an earlier earthquake in September, a Facebook page posted a false warning that another quake was imminent, sending tens of thousands of people in the capital into a frenzy, causing them to leave their homes and drive to open spaces.

People hardly needed fake news to be put on edge. The past three days have done the job.

Most people here are familiar with a slogan from Communist times: “The earthquakes rocked the mountains but not the Albanian heart.” Thursday marked the anniversary of Albania’s independence from Ottoman rule in 1912, but the flags strung up on the streets of Durres for the celebration were lowered to half-staff and the day was declared one of mourning.

But even as hopes of finding more survivors dimmed, at least one family got some good news along with the bad.

Altin Celshima, 40, escaped his home with his family, but when he got to a hotel where his nephew and his nephew’s grandparents were staying, he found the seven-story building had collapsed.

“It was terrible, like a living hell,” he said.

The grandparents were located within six hours — the grandmother still alive, the grandfather struck dead by a falling beam. But it wasn’t until some panicked 20 hours after the quake, with help from Albanian and Greek rescuers, that the nephew was finally pulled out, alive.

“It was a miracle he survived,” Mr. Celshima said.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting.

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