The outbreak of Covid-19, which in fact overshadowed a bit two big earthquakes that happened in Albania last year in September and November.

On 26 November 2019 Albania was hit by a 6.4 Mw earthquake on her western central part.  Unfortunately, this earthquake claimed the lives of 51 people and more than 3000 injured.

The earthquake comes as result of a sudden release of energy in the earth crust that generates the seismic wave. Two of the most affected cities from this earthquake are Durres and Tirana.

Albania lies across the convergent boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the Adriatic Plate, part of the complex collision zone with the African Plate. The structure of the western part of Albania is dominated by active thrust tectonics. The region is seismically active, with several M ≥ 6 earthquakes in the last hundred years.

Since more than 900 families were evacuated from their homes there came a need to make a building damage evaluation.  The aim of this evaluation was to identify the building seriously affected that in fact represent a hazard for the community after a moderate or severe earthquake. This evaluation was based on structural and non-structural damage and geotechnical failure.

The method used to make this evaluation immediately after this earthquake is based on Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings. RVS is a form of survey to identify the buildings which are expected to be more vulnerable under an earthquake. It is used to prioritize the buildings for further evaluation and retrofit for seismic forces. The rapid assessment takes place within the first days after the occurrence of the major earthquake.

It aims at quickly identifying buildings ″safe for use″ (GREEN), ″unsafe for use″

(YELLOW) and also the buildings that are considered as ″dangerous for use″ (RED). The posting “unsafe for use” (YELLOW) has to be used for all the damaged buildings for which there is uncertainty about the extent to which they have been weakened by the earthquake. The rapid assessment also intends to identify buildings in need of urgent demolition, local hazards that have to be removed for safety purposes and, in general, safety measures that have to be taken in order to avoid further casualties or injuries.

The contribution of Metropolitan University Professors and Czech Engineers during post-inspection of Earthquake damages in Albania. (December 2019)

Professor Michal Kohout, who has been also a guest-lecturer of Metropolitan University, had the incentive to organize a Czech Team in order to help by the inspections of buildings damaged by the recent Earthquakes in Albania. He contacted the Embassy of Czech Republic in Tirana, and also the Chamber of Engineers and Construction in Prague. After the Chamber of Constructors made a call when they demanded volunteers to come for inspections in about a week time, many Czech Engineers showed solidarity in volunteering to come to Albania and participate in the inspection effort of damaged buildings.

Professor Michal Kohout, contributed with the expenses of round flight trips to Tirana. Everything was organized in a record time and the first group of Czech Engineers came in Tirana on December 9th 2019. The first group consisted of the following members:

Ing. Petr Fantyš
Ing. Ivan Koudelka
Ing. Daniel Horák
Ing. Jan Slavatka

The Engineers participated in many building inspections in Tirana, and Durres, together with Metropolitan University staff. Many families greeted them with joy, just by hearing from these international experts that their building did not suffer serious damages. This was a very touching moment and a great relief for the citizens of Tirana who were psychologically in distress caused by the earthquake. The Czech Engineers participated in inspections in dozens of buildings in Tirana and Durres. As being at the epicenter of the earthquake the damages in Durres being were serious in some buildings.

The second group came on 15th of December and stayed till 21 of December 2019, meanwhile the Mr. Fantyš and Mr. Koudelka stayed with the second group. The second group also made inspections for dozens of buildings mainly in Tirana, but also in Durres.  The second group consisted of the following structural engineers: 

Ing. Ondřej Svoboda
Ing. Radoslav Ulrich
Ing. Mikuláš Rozmbach
Ing. Tomáš Turský
Ing. Antonín Uhlíř

Metropolitan University of Tirana organized an Open Seminar with the topic “Effects of 21 September and 26 November Earthquakes in Albania” on 18.12.2019. The event was participated by the honourable Czech Ambassador in Tirana, Mr. Jarislav Loudva, the president of Metropolitan University Mr. Arjan Çukaj, the dean of the Faculty of Engineering As. Prof. Emre Çeçen, the Czech Team, faculty members and other guests from Tirana Municipality and other Faculties. Another international guest was the Turkish Prof. Cenk Ustundag, from Istanbul Technical University, who gave a presentation about “Strengthening Masonry Structures Using Fabric-Reinforced Cementitous Matrix (FRCM) Composites.

Engineer Ing. Ivan Koudelka and Ing. Tomáš Turský spoke about their experience in inspected damaged buildings in Albania, common scenarios of damaged buildings, and implications in building construction.

The seminar brought attention to the necessary of earthquake damages and was organized in a very short period of time, by Metropolitan University in order to allow for sharing of experience among the Czech Engineers and other faculty members who had intensive site inspection of buildings for several weeks. 

Therefore Metropolitan University again acted as an instrument with Community Impact, but this contribution would not be possible in that scale, without the precious help of the Czech Ambassador Mr. Jaroslav Loudva,  the incentive and support of the architect Professor Michal Kohout from Czech Technical University in Prague and above all the kind help of all the Czech engineers mentioned above who volunteered to support .

Rapid Assessment Process:


Form used for the Rapid Assessment: 


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