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Romania to dispatch 50-strong rescue team to Albania in aftermath of 6.4-magnitude quake

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Romania will dispatch a 50-strong search and rescue help to Albania to help the country in the aftermath of a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, head of the Emergency Department Raed Arafat said Tuesday. 

"After the earthquake, we were informed by the European Civil Protection that the mechanism was activated, including by the Albanian Embassy. With the approval of Minister Vela, our team is already in preparation. We spoke to the Defence Ministry, who will help us with transportation; the agreement of Defence Minister Ciuca was secured. Fifty people of the the search and rescue team of Special Emergency Unit with the Emergency Inspectorate (IGSU), which is our United Nations-authorised team for such a mission, is about to leave for Albania this after-noon with the equipment they need," Arafat told Digi 24 private broadcaster in a phone conversation. 

He said that several teams were requested, and the response time is very important. 

"The response time is very important, because the earthquake is considered a major emergency. If you go after a day, two, it is too late. So, fortunately, we will be able to leave in a few hours and with the support of our colleagues from the Air Force, the mission will be carried out until tonight. (...) The team will act in the area until the search-and-rescue operations are stopped," said Arafat. 

At least six people died in Albania on Tuesday after a 6.4-magnitude stroke, the strongest in recent decades, according to the Reuters and AFP news agencies. Several buildings collapsed, and 150 people were injured, with residents getting trapped under rubble. 

The earthquake took place at 02:54hrs, GMT, 10 kilometers deep, north of the coastal city of Durres, which is located about 30 kilometers west of Tirana, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

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