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Thank you for dropping in and reading this article regarding current Russian and Political news titled “6.0-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Near Vanuatu”. This article is posted by My Local Pages Australia as part of our Australian news services.
At least seven people were killed, dozens were wounded and several towns in central Croatia were left in ruins after a powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey and Croatian officials.
The full extent of casualties was not known and as daylight faded, emergency crews, assisted by the military, searched the wreckage for survivors.
The quake, which hit just after noon local time about 30 miles from the capital, Zagreb, could be felt across the Balkans and as far away as Hungary. It followed a smaller earthquake a day earlier and another in March, rattling residents in the earthquake-prone region.
The epicenter of the quake was near the towns of Petrinja and Sisak, which is home to the region’s largest hospital, rendered largely unusable because of damage. Although people injured in the quake were still being taken to the facility to be triaged, including two in critical condition, the government said it would evacuate the patients there. That effort would also include moving 40 coronavirus patients to other facilities.
“We have nowhere to come to work tomorrow — only the gynecology building remains, where we are currently taking care of the most seriously ill,” the director of the hospital, Tomislav Dujmenovic, told state TV. “We have nowhere to go tomorrow.”
At the moment the earthquake struck, he said, a woman was in labor and the procedure was moved outside. Both the mother and child are in good health.
The destruction caused by the earthquake was widespread across the city.
“Half the city’s capitol building collapsed — the city is in a very bad state,” the mayor of Sisak, Kristina Ikic Banicek, told state television. “We’re helping people as much as we can.” One person was reported to have been killed in the city.
In Petrinja, a town of around 25,000 people that still bears the scars from a major battle during the wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia, the mayor said he walked by the body of a 12-year-old girl on the street.
“This is a catastrophe,” said the mayor, Darinko Dumbovic. “My city is completely destroyed,” he said in an emotional telephone interview from the scene that was broadcast on Croatian state television.
“We need firefighters, we don’t know what’s under the surfaces, a roof fell on a car, we need help.”
He added: “Mothers are crying for their children.”
In the nearby village of Glina, local officials said four people who died had been pulled from the rubble.
Images from Petrinja on social media and local television stations showed streets strewn with rubble, buildings with roofs caved in and rescue crews rushing to search for people who may have been trapped.
In the moments after the earth stopped shaking, orange dust filled the air as car alarms sounded, church bells clanged and shouts for survivors echoed through streets.
In one dramatic rescue, a man and a child were pulled from a car buried under debris. The mayor told local reporters that he did not know the condition of the two people but that they appeared to be alive.
“I also heard that the kindergarten collapsed,” Mr. Dumbovic said, adding: “But fortunately there were no children” in the building at the time.
The Red Cross in Croatia said it was a “very serious” situation.
The earthquake on Tuesday came after a 5.2-magnitude tremor hit the area the day before, damaging buildings and rattling nerves in a region with a history of seismic activity.
And it came only hours after Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic toured the center of Petrinja to survey damage from the first quake.
They returned on Tuesday to devastation.
“This 2020 is bringing us tragedy after tragedy,” Mr. Plenkovic said, adding that there were many small villages around the two larger towns that had also suffered damage.
While the first tremor on Monday caused no injuries, many buildings had been damaged, putting them in a precarious condition when the second quake struck.
The government lifted travel restrictions put in place to contain the coronavirus so that assistance could arrive more quickly and to allow those whose homes were destroyed to travel to relatives.
In neighboring Slovenia, the state news agency said the country’s sole nuclear power plant, about 60 miles from the epicenter, was shut down as a precaution.
The Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary said in a statement that it had not shut down production although the earthquake had been felt there.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said she had asked Janez Lenarcic, the European commissioner for crisis management, to stand ready to travel to Croatia to assist.
The region is prone to earthquakes, and experts have warned that the Balkan nations in southeastern Europe have failed to address the risks posed by aging buildings.
While many towns and villages trace their roots back hundreds of years, a building boom in the 1990s, during the transition to capitalism from communism, resulted in structures that were constructed without regard for safety standards.
Millions of people live in buildings that are unlikely to survive a major earthquake, experts say.
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Croatia on Tuesday, killing seven people and seriously injuring at least 26. The tremors of the earthquake, whose epicentre was in Petrinja, 50 kilometres south of the capital Zagreb, could be felt as far away as Budapest and Vienna.
“My town has been completely destroyed,” Petrinja mayor Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by the Croatian national broadcaster HRT.
“This is like Hiroshima — half of the town no longer exists.”
Some residents of Petrinja, a town of 25,000 that became known for being the location of a major battle during the wars that erupted in the 1990s after the collapse of Yugoslavia, told HRT the earthquake damage was worse than during the war.
Several officials including the Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic and President Zoran Milanovic travelled to Petrinja to see the damage.
“This has been a difficult year and this [earthquake] adds insult to injury,” Mr Milanovic said.
Local officials said a 12-year-old girl died in the town, while the other fatalities were from nearby villages. The government said it would evacuate the hospital in the nearby city of Sisak, the region’s largest health facility, which was so badly damaged that most of its wings could no longer function properly.
Austria’s national broadcaster said the earthquake had been felt in 12 countries. Neighbouring Slovenia shut down its only nuclear power plant, 60 miles from the epicentre, as a precaution.
Interior minister Davor Bozinovic said Croatia was seeking and expecting EU assistance through the 27-member bloc’s emergency civil protection mechanism.
The earthquake, the second in Croatia in two days, struck while memories of tremors in March that heavily damaged Zagreb and displaced hundreds of people remain fresh.
A strong earthquake has hit central Croatia, causing considerable damage to homes and other buildings in a town southeast of Zagreb, the capital.
A man and a boy were pulled out alive from a car buried in rubble and sent to a hospital.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit 46km southeast of Zagreb on Tuesday (about 11.30pm AEDT). Initial reports said the earthquake caused wide damage, collapsing roofs, building facades and even some entire buildings.
The same area was struck by a 5.2 quake on Monday and several smaller aftershocks were felt Tuesday.
The regional N1 television reported live Tuesday from the town of Petrinja, which was hard-hit in the Monday quake, that a collapsed building had fallen on a car. The footage showed firefighters trying to remove the debris to reach the car, which was buried underneath. A man and a small boy were rescued from the car and carried into an ambulance.
In Petrinja, streets were littered with fallen bricks and dust and many houses were completely destroyed. The Croatian military was deployed in Petrinja to help with the rescue operation.
Croatian media said people were injured by the quake, but could not initially say how many amid the confusion and downed phone lines.
Croatian seismologist Kresimir Kuk described the earthquake as “extremely strong,” far stronger than another one that hit Zagreb and nearby areas in spring. He warned people to keep out of potentially shaky, old buildings and move to the newer areas of the city because of the aftershocks.
In Zagreb, people ran out into the streets and parks in fear. Many reportedly were leaving the city, ignoring a travel ban imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The earthquake Tuesday was felt throughout the country and in neighbouring Serbia and Bosnia. It even was felt as far away as Graz in southern Austria, the Austria Press Agency reported.
NEAR ONE of Izmir’s main thoroughfares, bulldozers and excavators power through a vast heap of rubble and steel wire, the ghastly remains of an apartment block levelled by an earthquake that struck Turkey’s third-biggest city in late October. Movers salvage furniture and kitchen supplies from buildings awaiting demolition or on the verge of collapse, their facades covered with deep cracks. A few hundred metres away, outside a shelter for those made homeless by the disaster, Meryem, a divorced teacher, and her two children are packing their belongings onto a pickup truck. Her house survived, says Meryem, but suffered so much damage that she refuses to go back. “I would not wish this on anyone,” she says.
At least 116 people died in the magnitude 7.0 quake, including a woman who drowned in a minor tsunami set off by the tremors. Rescue teams poured in from all over the country. Thousands of people volunteered to give blood. Local businesses distributed food to the survivors. Nearly three days into the search effort, exhausted workers pulled a three-year-old girl from the rubble of her home. A day later, they rescued another toddler.
Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Turkey has seen four deadly earthquakes this year alone and 18 tremors measured at 7.0 or above in the past 120 years. Almost 60m people, or 70% of the population, live in seismic zones. Yet disaster response is no longer a serious problem in Turkey. Preparedness is. Out of a total of about 10m buildings, 20-25% do not meet current standards for earthquake protection, says Mustafa Erdik, head of the Turkish Earthquake Foundation. Others put the figure even higher.
The risk is especially acute in Istanbul, home to over 15m people. Nearly 70% of the city’s housing stock dates from before 2000. Two decades ago, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed at least 17,000 people. Scientists agree that another big one is a matter of time. Some put the probability at up to 40% over the next 30 years. According to a recent study by the local planning agency, another earthquake of similar magnitude would destroy 48,000 buildings, damage 194,000 and cause 120bn lira ($15bn) in damages. Since Istanbul accounts for a third of Turkey’s GDP, the long-term economic damage could be severe.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his government have taken steps to lessen the impact of future quakes. Over 500,000 vulnerable buildings have been demolished and replaced since the launch of an “urban renewal” programme in 2012. Under a scheme partly financed by the World Bank, the government has earthquake-proofed more than 1,200 schools and hospitals in Istanbul. A slew of recent infrastructure projects, including a new bridge over the Bosporus and an undersea tunnel, have been designed to withstand big quakes. Over 56% of Turkish homeowners have taken out earthquake insurance, one of the highest rates in the world, and up from 26% a decade ago.
But Turkey seems to have taken a step back for every step forward. Critics say urban renewal has enriched companies close to the government, overlooked environmental concerns and triggered a wave of evictions. “This was a very good programme,” says Naci Gorur, a geologist at Istanbul Technical University. “But they handed it to the developers, who prioritised those neighbourhoods where they could make the most profit.” The construction frenzy that propelled Turkey’s economy under Mr Erdogan has swallowed up open spaces and parks. Of the 470 assembly areas designated in Istanbul after the 1999 quake, only 77 remain, according to the mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu. Ahead of an election two years ago, the government announced an amnesty on unlicensed construction. The scheme benefitted the owners of over 7m properties across Turkey. One of these was an apartment building in Istanbul that collapsed on its own early last year, killing 21 people. Three of its eight floors had been illegally built. ■
This article appeared in the Europe section of the print edition under the headline “Picking up the pieces”