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Albania hit by magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1 tremors; homes crack

TIRANA, Albania (AP) -- Northern Albania was struck Saturday by two earthquakes with preliminary magnitudes of 5.4 and 5.1, damaging scores of buildings, authorities said.

    Albania's Defense Ministry reported that the stronger struck quake at 5:33 p.m. (1533 GMT) with a depth of five kilometers (3.11 miles) near the village of Vinjoll in Mat district, 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital, Tirana.

    The Institute of Geosciences, Energy, Water and Environment reported that the other quake occurred at 5:38 p.m. (1538 GMT) some 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of Tirana. It said the quake had a depth of 24 kilometers (15 miles) near the town of Bulqize.

    The ministry reported 67 damaged houses in the town of Klos, Mat and Bulqize, but no human injuries.

    It added that authorities are coordinating work to assist the affected population.

    The quake was felt strongly in Tirana and most of the country, as well as in neighboring Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia. It was followed by 15 aftershocks.

    The U.S. Geological survey estimated the second tremor's depth at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in a preliminary report.

    A local media site, Balkanweb.com, reported that on a road in northeastern Valbone-Bajram Curri a massive rock fell due to the tremor and hit a passing vehicle, injuring two of its passengers. But that was not confirmed by authorities.

    Albania, just north of Greece, is in an earthquake-prone area that sees quakes every few days, though most are not felt. Another quake of the same magnitude struck western Albania five weeks ago, causing only slight damages.

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