A powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck central Croatia on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens of people.
The quake, which stuck just after noon local time (around 7 PM in Vietnam) about 30 miles southeast of the capital Zagreb, was felt across the Balkans. It is the largest earthquake to hit Croatia this year, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center.
Reports said the earthquake caused extensive damaged, causing roofs, building faces and entire buildings to collapse. Emergency crew, assisted by the military, were still digging through the rubble in several towns as night fell and electricity remained out.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said late Tuesday that seven victims had been found so far and that there would “probably be more”.
Izražavam sućut obiteljima stradalih u Petrinji i Glini u razornom potresu. Nadamo se da će broj žrtava biti što manji. Sve službe su na terenu i neumorno rade te pružaju pomoć svima kojima je potrebna. Zahvaljujem svima na požrtvovnosti i trudu! pic.twitter.com/r8poDh0JuI— Andrej Plenković (@AndrejPlenkovic) December 29, 2020
One of the victims was a 12-year-old girl in Petrinja, a town of some 25,000 people. Another six people were killed in a village close by. The village was almost completely destroyed.
At least 26 were hospitalized, two with serious injuries, officials said. Many more people remain unaccounted for.
In Petrinja, cries could be heard from beneath destroyed houses. One woman was found alive four hours after the earthquake. Emergency teams have now deployed rescue dogs to hunt for survivors.
“My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children,” the mayor of Petrinja Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by HRT. “This is like Hiroshima – half of the city no longer exists.”
More than 250 members of the Croatian armed forces are on the ground to help in the search and rescue operations.
“We are pulling people out of cars, we don’t know if people have died or have been injured. I heard a kindergarten has collapsed but luckily there weren’t any children there, while in another one the children were able to escape,” the mayor said.
The Prime Minister said the government has secured 120 million kuna ($19 million) from the state budget to help with the response.