Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Strong Aftershocks Hit Croatia

Croatia earthquake: Strong aftershocks hit after quake kills seven


A series of powerful aftershocks have rocked central Croatia following a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Tuesday.

The new 4.8 and 4.7 magnitude tremors struck at around 06:15 local time (05:15 GMT) on Wednesday, causing further damage to buildings.

They came as rescuers scoured the rubble in dozens of villages near Petrinja overnight, but no new victims were found.

At least seven people are known to have died in Tuesday's quake.

"This morning we were hit by the third, if not the fourth earthquake," the mayor of Petrinja, Darinko Dumbovic, told state television early on Wednesday.

"Everything that has not yet fallen is falling," he added.

Mr Dumbovic earlier said that about half the town had been destroyed. EU crisis management chief Janez Lenarcic is due to visit the area, which is around 50km (30 miles) south of the capital Zagreb, later on Wednesday.

"At the moment, mostly winter tents, electric heaters, sleeping beds and sleeping bags are needed as well as housing containers," Ms Lenarcic wrote on Twitter. The EU is preparing to send aid to the region. 

The fear of potential aftershocks meant many people were too afraid to return to their homes overnight, officials said. Some people slept in their cars or stayed with relatives in other areas. About 200 people sheltered in a military barracks.

Meanwhile, large parts of Petrinja and the nearby town of Sisak were without electricity early on Wednesday.

Croatia's president and prime minister saw for themselves the scale of damage in Petrinja within two hours of the earthquake and were united in their response.

President Zoran Milanovic compared the scene to Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya, which was largely destroyed during a siege 20 years ago. The prime minister said it was "clear as day" that Petrinja was no longer safe for human habitation.

It is a bitter blow for the town's people, who faced a significant rebuilding operation after Croatia's war of independence in the 1990s. More recently, they have been tackling economic devastation, with the decline of traditional industries. 

Croatia's leaders have promised funds for reconstruction. But Petrinja's residents will be seeing in the new year in temporary accommodation - with little prospect of an early return home. 

The US Geological Survey said Tuesday's earthquake was the largest to occur in Croatia since the introduction of modern seismic instrumentation. An earthquake of similar size occurred in 1880 near Zagreb.

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