6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Croatia; 1 death reported

A strong earthquake has hit Central Croatia and caused extensive damage and at least one death in a city southeast of the capital

ZAGREB, Croatia – A strong earthquake struck central Croatia on Tuesday, causing extensive damage to homes and other buildings in a city southeast of the capital. A girl died in the earthquake and a man and a boy were taken alive from a car buried in rubble and sent to a hospital.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center said an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck 46 kilometers south of Zagreb. According to initial reports, the quake caused extensive damage, collapsed roofs, buildings and even an entire building.

The same area was hit by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake on Monday and several minor aftershocks were felt on Tuesday.

Croatian state broadcaster HRT said a girl was killed in the earthquake in Petrinja, a city southeast of the capital hit hardest by the quake. Other Croatian media also reported the death and quoted the mayor of the city. The child’s age or other details were not immediately available.

“The city center of Petrinja no longer exists,” HRT said in its report. “One girl is dead and there are injuries and people inside buildings that have collapsed.”

“My town is completely devastated, we have dead children,” Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by HRT TV. “It’s like Hiroshima – half the city no longer exists.”

“The city has been demolished, the city is no longer habitable,” he said. “We need help.”

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other government ministers have arrived in Petrinja following the quake.

Local TV channel N1 reported on Tuesday directly from the city that a building that collapsed fell on a car. The footage showed firefighters trying to remove the debris to reach the car, which was buried underneath. A man and a small boy were eventually rescued from the car and taken to an ambulance.

Fallen bricks and dust littered the streets, and many houses were completely destroyed. The Croatian army has been deployed in Petrinja to help with the rescue operation.

Croatian media said people were injured by the quake, but could not initially say how many amid the confusion and the switched off telephone lines.

Croatian seismologist Kresimir Kuk described the quake as “extremely strong”, much stronger than another that hit Zagreb and nearby areas in the spring. He warned people to stay out of potentially shaky, old buildings and move to the newer areas of the city due to the aftershocks.

In the capital, people ran out into streets and parks. Many are reportedly leaving Zagreb and ignoring a travel ban imposed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The quake was felt throughout the country and in neighboring Serbia, Bosnia and Slovenia. The Austrian press agency even felt this way as far as Graz in southern Austria.

Authorities in Slovenia have said that the Krsko nuclear power plant has been temporarily shut down following the earthquake. The power station is jointly owned by Slovenia and Croatia and is located near their border.