Strong earthquake shakes Zagreb

The Interior Ministry warned citizens to keep their distance from each other to avoid a COVID-19 infection. [Jutarnji List]

Updates with PM, interior minister’s comments

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 Richter hit Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Sunday morning (22 March), causing serious material damage and seriously wounding a 15-year old resident. The epicentre was seven kilometres north of Zagreb. EURACTIV Croatia reports.

The earthquake, the strongest in the last 140 years, came in two waves, at 6:24 am and 7:01. It lasted just a few seconds but was enough to cause severe damage in the capital, mostly to older buildings in the centre of town.

A building in downtown Zagreb collapsed entirely and several people remained trapped in their households, the local authorities reported. Doctors are fighting for the life of the 15-year old victim, according to Index.hr.

Click here to see pictures of the disaster in Zagreb published by EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji List.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković called on citizens to remain outside their homes because of possible aftershocks. But he appealed on everyone to keep the social distance because of the ongoing corona pandemic.

“We recommend that most citizens stay in front of their building, despite the cold. There is no reason to panic but keep your distance, as recommended by the national emergency centre for epidemics. We are dealing with two contradictory emergencies right now,” Plenković said.

So far, Croatia has reported 206 cases of the novel coronavirus and one death.

“We will do our utmost to make the best estimate of what to do at the moment. There are protocols when it comes to an earthquake. But when it comes to an earthquake combined with the global pandemic, then it is a much more complicated situation,” said Interior Minister Davor Bozinović.

The interior ministry advised people to keep at least a one-meter distance as well as use protective masks when being outside.

Currently, there is no official data regarding the number of injured people. By 11 am, the Croatian police said damage was registered on 66 buildings –  including a towering spire of the city cathedral which broke off and crashed down – and 23 cars in Zagreb.

[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Zoran Radosavljevic]

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