Albania earthquake kills at least 21 and injures 600

At least 21 people have died and more than 600 were injured after the most powerful earthquake to strike Albania in decades hit in the early hours of Tuesday.

A young boy is among those who have been saved by rescue crews who are using heavy machinery to search for survivors in the rubble of apartment buildings in the southern Balkan country.

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake and a number of aftershocks caused at least three apartment blocks to collapse as people slept in their beds.

The defence minister said there were 250 aftershocks, including two with magnitudes of between 5.1 and 5.4.

Thirteen bodies were recovered in the coastal city of Durres, 20 miles west of the capital Tirana, the defence ministry said. At least 45 people were pulled alive from the destroyed buildings.

A further five people were found dead in a collapsed apartment building in Thumane, to the north of the capital.

Elsewhere in the country, a person died after jumping from his home to escape, while another died on a road that collapsed.

Around 600 people had been injured, some seriously, according to the health ministry.

The number of people trapped is not known.

Another 5.4 magnitude quake was felt further away in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, with officials reporting minor damage to buildings and no reported casualties. Tremors were also felt in Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece, and southern Serbia.

Nearby countries have offered help to Albania, including Greece, Turkey and Kosovo.

"It is a dramatic moment where we should preserve calm, stay alongside each other to cope with this shock," the Albanian prime minister Edi Rama said.

The US Geological Survey said the 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck around 4am local time (3am GMT). The survey reported it had an epicentre 19 miles northwest of the capital, Tirana, at a depth of 12 miles.

Marjana Gjoka, 48, was sleeping in her apartment on the fourth floor of a five-storey building when the quake hit.

"The roof collapsed on our head and I don't know how we escaped. God helped us," said Ms Gjoka, who lives in Thumane. Her three-year-old niece was with her in the apartment as the tremor shattered the top of the building block.