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Earthquake: Teams of the Order of Malta Albanian Relief Corps immediately mobilised

First assistance for 3,500 victims

Tirana, 29 November 2019

Results of the earthquake in Durres
Results of the earthquake in Durres

A devastating earthquake struck Durrës, Albania’s second largest city, on 26th November, leaving 49 dead and 750 injured at last count. The Order of Malta’s Albanian Relief Corps was immediately on site to assist the hundreds of displaced persons – almost 3,500.

“Our teams were active from the early morning of 26th November,” said the Order of Malta’s Ambassador to Albania Stefano Palumbo. “Fifteen volunteers, doctors, nurses and first-aid operators organised the distribution of basic necessities and offered psychological assistance to the first 1,200 displaced persons gathered in the Durrës stadium.” In the port city, the epicentre of the earthquake, over 700 houses were damaged or completely destroyed.

“The Order of Malta volunteers distributed water, food and first-aid kits together with blankets and camp beds,” the Ambassador Palumbo said, explaining that the Order is in constant contact with Caritas Albania and with representatives of the Catholic Church on the site to provide first-aid.

Order of Malta relief teams from Italy on site

The Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps (CISOM) was also mobilised, sending a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to assess the damage. The team met the Minister of Health and Social Affairs and the Director General of National Health Emergencies. Their first task was to organise the transport of the sick from the stadium, where a temporary first-aid camp was set up, then to assess the need in Thumane, a small town near Durrës and the nearby camps of Lac and Fushe Kruje. 

The Order of Malta’s ambassador to Albania has remained in contact with the Prime Minister’s office, the director of the Port Authority in Durres and the apostolic nuncio. The Grand Master of the Order, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, on behalf of the Order worldwide, sent a message of condolence to the President of the Republic,Ilir Meta. 

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The mission of the Order of Malta is inspired by its tradition of ‘Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum', to assist the poor and the sick, and bear witness to the Christian faith.


The Sovereign Order of Malta is a sovereign subject of international law. The Order - which is based in Rome, in via Condotti - has its own Government, an independent magistracy, and bilateral diplomatic relations with 110 countries.


The Order of St John of Jerusalem is one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation. Present in Palestine in around 1048, it is a lay religious Order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature.