ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) – In the capital’s southeastern city, a staggering earthquake struck central Croatia on Tuesday to destroy buildings rushing on rubble-covered roads and send terrified people. Officials said two people, including a girl, were killed and at least 20 people were injured.
The European Mediterranean Center said a 6.3-magnitude earthquake occurred 46 kilometers (28 mi) southeast of Zagreb. Reports state that it caused extensive damage in the most difficult city of Petrinja. There was a 5.2 earthquake in this region on Monday.
Officials said a 12-year-old girl died in Petrinja, a town of some 25,000 people. He said at least 20 people were hospitalized, two of whom were seriously injured. Another person was killed in a village near the town.
“The center of Petrija no longer existed,” Croatia’s state HRT television reported, adding that people live inside the collapsed buildings.
“My city is completely destroyed. We have dead children. “It’s like Hiroshima – half of the city no longer exists.”
The Prime Minister of Croatia, Lady Plankovic and other government ministers arrived in Petrinja after the earthquake.
“The largest part of Central Petrinja is in a red zone, which means that most buildings are not usable,” Plankov said.
He said the army has 500 people ready in the barracks, while others will be accommodated at nearby hotels and other locations.
The Prime Minister said, “Nobody should stay outside in the cold tonight.”
Authorities later visited a damaged hospital in the nearby city of Sisak, which was also badly affected by the earthquake.
Plenkovic said hospital patients would be evacuated in army helicopters and ambulances. Health officials said a child was distributed in a tent in front of the hospital after the earthquake.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter that she spoke with Plenkovic and instructed an envoy to travel to Croatia as soon as possible.
As a country in the Mediterranean, Croatia is prone to earthquakes, but are not large. The last strong earthquake occurred in the 1990s when the picturesque Adriatic coast village of Ston was destroyed.
Regional TV channel N1 from Petrinaja reported that a collapsed building had fallen on a car. The footage showed firefighters trying to remove debris. A man and a small boy were eventually rescued from the car and taken to an ambulance.
Falling bricks and dust littered the streets while searching for survivors in the debris as emergency teams used rescue dogs. Four hours after the earthquake, a woman was found alive, the rescue team said.
The Croatian army was stationed at Petrina to help in the rescue operation.
Croatian seismologist Kresimir Kuk described the earthquake as “extremely strong”, stronger than the one that hit the spring in Zagreb and surrounding areas. He warned people to stay out of potentially dilapidated old buildings and move to new areas of the city because of aftershocks.
People in the capital fled the streets in fear.
Earthquakes were felt across the country and in neighboring Serbia, Bosnia and Slovenia. The Austrian press agency reported that it felt as far away as Graz in southern Austria.
Slovenia officials said that the Cresco nuclear power plant was temporarily shut down after the earthquake. The power plant is jointly owned by Slovenia and Croatia and is located near their border.
AP authors Dusan Stojanovic and Jovana Gay in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report.
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