- Two other tremors were recorded later on.
- Depending on the agency, the earthquake registered as either a 5.3 or 5.4 on the Richter scale.
- The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus.
A strong earthquake shook Croatia and its capital on Sunday, causing evacuation of hospitals, widespread damage and panic. A 15-year old girl was reported to be in critical condition and sixteen others injured. Officials said that the girl was killed, but the doctors later said that she is in critical condition, but they are fighting for her life. However, they gave no immediate details on the extent of other injuries.
Two other tremors were recorded later on. Many buildings in Zagreb cracked and wall and rooftops were damaged. Downtown streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances. Zagreb’s iconic cathedral was also damaged, with the top of one of its two spires collapsing. The cathedral was rebuilt after it was toppled in the 1880 earthquake.
Gordan Jandroković, the Speaker of Croatia’s Parliament, said that the damage to the parliament building meant that the sessions would be postponed. “The damage is quite extensive. Walls and staircases have cracked on the upper floor and one section of the roof has been damaged,” he said.
The quake caused power blackouts. People ran out of their homes as power was cut off, several fires were also reported. Residents shared photos of belongings falling off the shelves, broken glasses and bottles inside the houses. “It lasted over ten seconds. By far the strongest I have ever felt,” one witness said adding that it was followed by several aftershocks.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, EMSC, said that the earthquake measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, and struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb, at 6:23 AM (5:23 GMT) Sunday. The epicenter was 7 kilometers (4miles) north of Zagreb, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6miles).
The United States Geological Survey (USGS), on the other hand, said that the earthquake measured 5.4. Ines Ivancic, a seismologist with the Croatian government institute for seismology, said that even though the tremor was strong immediate damage could not be assessed.
The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to avoid public areas, like public squares and parks, but when the earthquake struck, they had no option but had to run out of their apartments. The Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said the situation was complicated by the restrictive coronavirus-related measures in place.
“There are rules for when there is an earthquake, but when there is an earthquake at the same time when there is a global pandemic, then it’s a much more complex situation,” he told state news agency HINA. Bozinovic appealed to the citizens in the streets to keep a social distance from each other because the country is struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Croatia has so far confirmed 235 cases of the virus and one death. The Health Minister Vili Beros told Croatians to continue observing the social distance measure even as they try to come to terms with the earthquake damage. “Earthquakes are dangerous, but coronavirus is even more so,” he said.