Croatia has been hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), causing major damage to Petrinja, a town close to its epicenter. It killed at least one person, according to authorities.
The quake hit the Balkan country at 12:20 p.m. local time (6:20 a.m. ET) and its epicenter was located 44 kilometers (27 miles) southeast of the capital Zagreb, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC). The government-owned Croatian News Agency HINA had earlier reported the quake having a magnitude of 6.3.
The EMSC said it was the largest earthquake to hit Croatia so far this year, adding it could “generate significant damage at close epicentral distances.”
Darinko Dumbović, the mayor of Petrinja, implored for immediate emergency aid, saying that “half the town has been destroyed,”HINA reported.
Dumbović was holding a press conference before the quake hit. According to footage of the conference, there was a growing rumbling sound as the earthquake began followed by muddled shrieks from the attendees before the camera appeared to fall to the ground.
Photographs from Petrinja showed a collapsed roof of a building and a car crushed by falling debris.“My city has been completely destroyed. We have a dead child. I can’t describe it. It’s like Hiroshima,” Dumbović told CNN’s Croatian affiliate N1 in an emotional plea for support.”We need firefighters, we don’t know what lies below the surface. A roof fell on a car, we need help,” he added.
In an earlier interview with N1, Dumbović described scenes of “panic” in the aftermath of the tremor. “There’s panic, people are searching for their loved ones,” he said.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the military would be deployed to support emergency services, while HINA reported that personnel were already on the ground in Petrinja, helping residents and clearing debris.
“This is a tragedy but everyone is here and we will provide all possible help,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet.Reuters reported that the quake could be felt as far away as Zagreb. Photographs from the capital showed broken roof tiles, bricks and other debris.
The Arena sports hall in Zagreb, which was turned into an emergency care centre for coronavirus patients, will also begin to take in coronavirus patients from the county of Sisak-Moslavina, which was affected the earthquake, HINA has reported.