Croatia; Strongest Earthquake In 140 Years, Hits Croatia’s Capital

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A strong earthquake in Croatia on Sunday caused panic, the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage including to the capital’s iconic cathedral – all amid a partial coronavirus lockdown.

Newborn babies had to be evacuated from a maternity hospital after the strong earthquake rocked Croatia during a partial coronavirus lockdown.

The 5.3 magnitude tremor – the biggest to hit the capital Zagreb in 140 years – left at least 17 people injured and caused widespread damage to buildings, leaving cars crushed by falling chunks of masonry.

The temblor, which struck 5.7 miles (9.2 km) to the north of Zagreb and had a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), was rated a magnitude 5.3, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The 5.3-magnitude quake is the largest to affect the city in 140 years. There has been at least one strong aftershock thus far with a magnitude of 4.6.

Panicked residents ran out into the streets when it struck around 06:00 local time and were initially told to stay out by authorities.

“Keep your distance. Don’t gather together. We are facing two serious crises, the earthquake, and the epidemic,” Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said.

A teenage boy has reportedly died after a roof collapse in Zagreb.

“We received a report of the collapse of the building at Djordjiceva 13. An ambulance team took to the field and found a seriously injured child who showed no signs of life,” said Zarko Rasic, director of the Zagreb Institute of Emergency Medicine, via a local news outlet. The boy’s death was confirmed at a nearby hospital.

A 15-year-old was reported to be in critical condition, and 16 others were injured, authorities said.

GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said the earthquake, which was felt across the Western Balkans, struck at a depth of 10km (six miles). It downgraded the magnitude to 5.3 from an initial reading of 6.0.

People across the capital shared images on Twitter of debris from damaged buildings littering the streets, including the Croatian Parliament building. Vehicles were also seen nearly completely crumpled.

The historic Zagreb Cathedral also suffered damage, with the top of one of the spires being broken off. The cathedral was severely damaged in 1880 when a significant earthquake shook the city.

Downtown streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.

“It felt like a train was coming through my apartment, in all my time in the city I have never felt anything like that before,” a resident told The Dubrovnik Times.

The quake forced people to ignore government warnings to avoid public spaces such as parks and squares to slow the spread of Covid-19.


“There are rules for when there is an earthquake, but when there is an earthquake at the same time as when there is a global pandemic, then it’s a much more complex situation,” said interior minister Davor Bozinovic.

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