THUMANE/DURRES, Albania -- Hundreds of people have spent a second night amid the flotsam of cratered neighborhoods in tents or cars after a powerful earthquake rocked central Albania, killing at least 31 people and injuring about 650.
Rescue teams from more than 10 countries joined local rescuers on November 27 in scrambling through the rubble of collapsed buildings in a frantic search for survivors, using drones, dogs, and diggers.
The 6.4-magnitude earthquake -- the strongest in decades -- struck during the early hours on November 26 about 30 kilometers northwest of the capital, Tirana, and was followed by aftershocks.
Most of the casualties occurred in the port city of Durres and the northern town of Thumane where the quake razed buildings to the ground, trapping dozens of people.
Many residents were afraid to return home due to the tremors that followed the initial earthquake, including a 5.3-magnitude quake that struck just off Albania's coast on the afternoon of November 27.
Ramadan Koleci, who is living in a tent in Thumane with his wife, told RFE/RL that their house was now "uninhabitable."
“I would prefer to stay in the tent rather than live in our house. It can collapse and I would be trapped inside because earthquakes are unpredictable, one can strike tomorrow."
In Durres, hundreds of residents struggled to keep warm in an improvised camp at the city's football stadium.
The Albanian Defense Ministry said about 650 people had been injured and another 20 reported missing.
Eight people were said to be in critical condition.
The Albanian Red Cross said approximately 2,500 people had been displaced.
The government declared a day of national mourning and a state of emergency in the Tirana and Durres regions, where officials said dozens of people have been safely rescued.
Festivities planned for Albania's Independence Day celebrations on November 28-29 were canceled.
Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority population, also declared a mourning day.
During a visit to the city, Prime Minister Edi Rama said that people who had lost their homes would be rehoused by authorities in hotels during the winter. He also pledged to put each family in a new home by 2020.
Rama said a donor conference with Turkey and regional countries would be organized and he said would discuss potential help with NATO allies during next week's summit in London.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but experts, rescue teams, and emergency aid have flowed in from around the continent and elsewhere.
Teams from Greece, Italy, Romania, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, the United States, and Israel were helping with the search efforts, reports said.
Temperatures in Albania were expected to remain well above 10 degrees Celsius this week, but rain forecast for November 28 could hamper the rescue efforts.
The earthquake was felt across the Balkans and in southern Italy, across the Adriatic Sea from Albania.
Quakes are common in the Balkan region, which lies close to a fault line between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates.
In 1979, a quake hit Albania and neighboring Montenegro, claiming more than 130 lives.