Businesswoman rallying support for Albanian earthquake victims

An Albanian businesswoman is trying to raise cash and vital supplies for victims of the deadly earthquake which struck her homeland.

Mirela Sula is trying to rally money, food and supplies for people affected by the quake which struck Albania’s Adriatic coast on Tuesday.

The businesswoman, who moved to London seven years ago and founded the Global Woman Club, said the Albanian community in the UK was also mobilising to gather whatever support it can.

The death toll has increased to 40 after more bodies were pulled from the ruins.

Ms Sula, who is also CEO and the founder of Global Woman Magazine, has set up a JustGiving page which has raised nearly £2,500 of its £10,000 target since Wednesday.

Businesswoman Mirela Sula
Businesswoman Mirela Sula

She said members of the Global Woman Club – which has groups in the UK, Europe and USA – in London had also donated cash and clothing such as boots and scarves.

Ms Sula added: “We want to maximise the opportunity to raise as much money as we can so we can go and be there for these people.

Albania Earthquake
Albania Earthquake

“I feel really supported and a lot of people have been sending me messages and sharing on social media and contributing as much as they can.

“I feel very grateful, I want to keep going and do the best we can.

“Every single Albanian here is doing something and I can see the solidarity. But I feel very humbled that many people who are not Albanian are also responding to this.”

Ms Sula said her family, which lives in Tirana, was safe but she knew people whose homes had been completely destroyed during the quake.

She added: “They are scared, they are traumatised, but they are alive and safe.”

Ms Sula said that she hopes that within a week to 10 days she will have hit the fundraising target and be able to travel to Albania with the donations and help distribute it through her Global Woman Club network there.

Authorities said search and rescue operations continued in the port city of Durres, 20 miles west of the capital Tirana, where three bodies were recovered overnight.

Searching had stopped, however, in the nearby town of Thumane, where no more people were believed to be buried in collapsed apartment buildings after six bodies were recovered from the rubble overnight.

More than 650 people were injured in the 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck before dawn on Tuesday and has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks, including several with magnitudes of above 5.0, which have complicated rescue efforts.

A total of about 2,100 people had spent Tuesday night in tents, and the government has vowed to provide new homes during 2020 for all those left homeless.