Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Thursday the number of officially confirmed victims from an earthquake in Albania has risen to 39 just two days after the quake struck.
Rama said there are 16 confirmed deaths in the country’s second-largest city Durres and 23 in Thumane, a town 40 kilometres to the north.
However, TV Klan has put the toll at 40, adding to the list a man killed in a car accident caused by the earthquake. The accident happened in Lezhe, 70 kilometres north of Durres.
Rescue efforts have been halted in Thumane, but continues in Durres, where Albanian and international teams worked through the night trying to reach members of a family trapped in the rubble.
Toddler twins and a teenager were among those buried under their collapsed home since early Tuesday morning when a minute-long, 6.4-magnitude quake struck.
Rescuers were still working on the building, reduced to concrete slabs piled one on top of the other.
Search and rescue operations were being complicated by the incessant trembling of the ground.
Hundreds of tremors, some significant, have been recorded over the previous two-and-a-half days in western Albania and nearby under the Adriatic seabed.
The tremors triggered much panic, which was frequently further fanned by unfounded media reports.
Rama lashed out at local media, warning that he may invoke authorities under the state of emergency declared in the Durres area to take measures against fake news.
“For the last time I warn news websites and channels that, under the legal framework of the state of emergency, I will be forced to intervene and close them until the end of this dramatic situation if they continue with fake news that spreads panic.
“In this extraordinary situation, when every word must be measured, it is intolerable to distort expert announcements and explanations. Stop and stop immediately,’’ he tweeted.