Increased number of victims
At least seven dead in earthquakes in Croatia – including a child
After the severe earthquake in the EU and holiday country Croatia, the number of deaths has risen to seven. And Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic fears further victims.
At least seven people were killed in the violent earthquake in central Croatia. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic named the new number of victims on Tuesday evening. The previous official interim balance had recorded six deaths. The death toll will “probably” continue to rise, said Plenkovic.
The rescue teams continued to search the rubble on Tuesday evening. Six people were rescued from the ruins with the help of sniffer dogs, according to the rescue services. Many residents of the particularly affected city of Petrinja wanted to spend the night outdoors for fear of possible aftershocks.
Child among the fatalities
According to the police, the victims included a young girl in Petrinja and five other people in a nearby village. According to Croatian media reports, the girl who died was said to have been twelve years old. Around 20 other people were injured according to the authorities’ preliminary results.
The quake on Tuesday noon had a magnitude of 6.4, according to the USGS earthquake monitoring station. Its epicenter was near Petrinja and 50 kilometers southeast of the capital Zagreb. There, tiles fell from the roofs, and residents ran into the streets in a panic, a reporter for the AFP news agency reported. The quake could also be felt in Austria and Serbia. As a precaution, the Krsko nuclear power plant in neighboring Slovenia was shut down.
“The city is a single field of ruins”
Numerous residential buildings collapsed in the city of Petrinja, which has a population of 20,000. A – fortunately empty – kindergarten was also destroyed, as mayor Darinko Dumbovic told a radio station. “The city is a single field of ruins,” said the mayor. “It is a disaster.” The earthquake caused the electricity to fail in Petrinja – including in the hospital. The TV station N1 showed pictures of patients using their cell phones as flashlights. The city center was in darkness at nightfall.
The 70-year-old pensioner Vesna told AFP that she wanted to sleep in her car with her granddaughters: “We are afraid to return home.” Other retirees gathered in a park and wrapped themselves in blankets. Prime Minister Plenkovic announced that he would have containers sent to Petrinja. “We have to find alternative accommodation, it’s not safe here,” he said on a visit to the city.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen immediately agreed to help. “We are ready to support,” she wrote on Twitter after a conversation with Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. She asked Janez Lenarcic, EU Commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid, to travel to the earthquake area as soon as possible. “We stand on the side of Croatia,” emphasized von der Leyen. The EU civil protection team is “ready to travel to Croatia as soon as the situation allows.” Council President Charles Michel said “our thoughts are with the injured and the rescue workers”.
The Balkan region is at great risk of earthquakes because the African plate is pushed under the Eurasian plate there. In the past few decades, the Balkans region has repeatedly experienced earthquake disasters. In July 1963, an earthquake destroyed the center of Skopje, the capital of the then Yugoslav republic of Macedonia and what is now North Macedonia. More than 1000 people died. In October 1969, an earthquake devastated the northern Bosnian town of Banja Luka, only 100 kilometers from the epicenter of the most recent earthquake in Croatia: 15 people died. In March 1977, a magnitude 7.5 quake struck the Romanian capital, Bucharest, killing 1,600. In March of this year, Zagreb was hit by a 5.3 magnitude quake.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated several times since it was first published.