INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Croatia; 1 death reported

Published 8:37 am Tuesday, December 29, 2020

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — A strong earthquake hit central Croatia on Tuesday, causing major damage to homes and other buildings in a town southeast of the capital. A girl was killed in the quake and a man and a boy were pulled out alive from a car buried in rubble and sent to a hospital.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center said a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit 46 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Zagreb. Initial reports said the earthquake caused wide damage, collapsing roofs, building facades and even some entire buildings.

The same area was struck by a 5.2 quake on Monday and several smaller aftershocks were felt Tuesday.

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

“The center of Petrinja as it used to be no longer exists,” HRT said in its report. “One girl died and there are injuries and people inside collapsed buildings.”

“My town has been completely destroyed, we have dead children,” Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by HRT TV. “This is like Hiroshima – half of the city no longer exists.”

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

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other government ministers arrived in Petrinja after the earthquake.

Regional TV channel N1 reported live Tuesday from the town that a collapsed building had fallen 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 eventually were rescued from the car and carried into an ambulance.

Fallen bricks and dust littered the streets, and many houses were completely destroyed. The Croatian military was 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 downed phone lines.

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

In the capital, people ran out into the streets and parks in fear. Many reportedly were leaving Zagreb, ignoring a travel ban imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The earthquake was felt throughout the country and in neighboring Serbia, Bosnia and Slovenia. It even was felt as far away as Graz in southern Austria, the Austria Press Agency reported.

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