Five people died on Tuesday in a powerful earthquake that shook central Croatia, causing panic, razing houses and plunging a city into darkness.
The locality of Petrinja and its surroundings were badly affected by the magnitude 6.4 earthquake, also felt in neighboring countries and even beyond. Some of the 20,000 inhabitants were preparing to spend the night outside for fear of possible aftershocks.
According to the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS), the epicenter was located about fifty kilometers southeast of Zagreb, in the region of Sisak, shaken the day before by a less powerful earthquake.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1 € without commitment
A child was killed in Petrinja, according to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. According to local media, she was 12 years old. Four people were killed in the nearby town of Glina, Croatian press reported, citing official sources.
Electricity was cut in Petrinja and, after dark, the city center was still dark. In the main square, several buildings were completely destroyed. The police and the army were busy clearing the debris with backhoes.
“It’s a disaster,” said Josip Horvat, a 44-year-old artist who lives in the suburbs of Petrinja. When the earthquake struck around noon, he was in the city center repairing a friend’s chimney that had been damaged in the shaking the day before. “I grabbed hold of the gutter and prayed to God it would end as quickly as possible.”
“It is not safe here, it is clear as day,” Prime Minister Plenkovic said at the scene, explaining that the authorities would install containers to shelter people whose homes were at risk.
Night in the car
Fearing another shock, residents like Vesna, a 70-year-old pensioner, were preparing to spend the night in their car. “My granddaughters are already there. We’re afraid to go home,” she told AFP.
Retirees gathered in a park, wrapped in blankets, and were afraid to go home. “All the tiles in the bathroom are broken, all the dishes are on the floor,” Marica Pavlovic, a 72-year-old worker, told AFP. “Even if we wanted to go home, we couldn’t, there is no more electricity”.
The mayor, Darinko Dumbovic, said the damage was still being assessed. A kindergarten, luckily empty at the time of the tragedy, is among the collapsed buildings. “The city is nothing more than a field of ruins. It is the general panic”, commented the mayor.
About twenty people were hospitalized, including two in critical condition, reports the regional channel N1. The town hospital was also without electricity. N1 released images showing patients lighting up with their cell phones.
The earthquake was strongly felt in the capital Zagreb, where residents rushed into the streets and roof tiles crashed into the roadway.
In a supermarket, goods fell from the stalls and bottles were broken on the ground, according to images on social networks.
Nuclear power plant shut down in Slovenia
The earthquake was also felt in neighboring Slovenia, including the capital Ljubljana, as well as other countries in the region, Hungary and Austria, witnesses and media reported. The Slovenian nuclear power plant in Krsko was shut down “as a precaution”.
“We are ready to help”, reacted on Twitter the boss of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “Our thoughts are with the wounded and the rescuers”, also commented Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
The day before, a smaller-magnitude earthquake had hit the same area, causing only minor property damage.
In March, the capital Zagreb was struck by a 5.3 magnitude earthquake that caused extensive damage.
The Balkans are an area of strong seismic activity and earthquakes are frequent there.
Ldiplomacy in all its forms
Lbest of all worlds