One girl dead as powerful quake strikes central Croatia

Denis Lovrovic
·2-min read

A powerful earthquake killed at least one girl as it tore down buildings in central Croatia on Tuesday, sending rescue teams hunting for survivors in the rubble and forcing residents to seek safer shelter.

The damage was concentrated in the town of Petrinja, home to some 20,000 people, where rooftops caved in and bricks and other debris lined the streets.

"We have information that one girl has far we have no other information on casualties," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said as he visited the town in Croatia's interior.

Local media reported the girl was 12 years old.

"We will have to find alternative shelter, we will bring containers, it is not safe to be here," Plenkovic said.

The town's mayor Darinko Dumbovic said officials were still tallying the scale of the destruction, adding that a -- luckily empty -- kindergarten was among the buildings that collapsed from the force of the quake.

"The city is actually a huge ruin. We are saving people, we are saving lives. We have dead people, we have missing people, injured is a catastrophe," Dumbovic told national radio.

Rescue workers and the army were deployed to search for any trapped residents in the town, while regional broadcaster N1 reported that some 20 people had been hospitalised, with two in critical condition.

Minister of Health Vili Beros said Covid-19 patients and others from a local psychiatric hospital would be moved to other cities to make space for earthquake victims.

"I'm scared, I can't reach anyone at home as the phone lines are dead," one worried woman in Petrinja, where electricity was cut, told N1.

- Two quakes -

The quake also shook the capital Zagreb, 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the epicentre, where tiles were ripped off roofs and panicked residents gathered streets, according to an AFP reporter.

The earthquake, which struck around 1130 GMT according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), rattled Petrinja just one day after a smaller earthquake struck the town, causing some damage to buildings.

The tremors reverberated across neighbouring countries, including Serbia, Slovenia and as far away as the Austrian capital Vienna.

As a precaution Slovenia moved to shut down the Krsko nuclear power plan it co-owns with Croatia.

European Union leaders said they were closely following the "devastating earthquake" in member state Croatia.

The bloc's civil protection team was "ready to travel to Croatia as soon as the situation allows," European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said "our thoughts go out to the injured and frontline workers".

In March, buildings in the heart of Zagreb were damaged by a 5.3-magnitude quake, the most powerful to hit the capital in decades.

The Balkan region lies on major fault lines and is regularly hit by earthquakes.