6.4 magnitude earthquake hits central Croatia, leaving hundreds displaced
— 2 minute read– by Sam Feierabend
On 29th December, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the Croatian town of Petrinja, killing at least seven and leaving dozens more injured. It marked the largest earthquake the country had seen since the 1990s and displaced hundreds of people at a time when the country is already struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The earthquake hit at around midday causing residents to flee from extensive damage, including roofs and entire buildings collapsing. The town of Petrinja lies roughly 28 miles away from the capital city of Zagreb and the disaster has left most of the town uninhabitable, with some residents comparing the disaster-zone to Hiroshima. Access to electricity and water has been completely cut off.
As a Mediterranean country, Croatia is prone to earthquakes yet they rarely hit a high magnitude. In Spring 2020, Zagreb was hit by a minor earthquake which resulted in minimal damage. This most recent disaster, however, has the potential to be the most economically damaging natural disaster in the country’s history.
The Croatian Army set up 500 temporary living barracks for those who had been displaced, with Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenkovic stressing that “no one must stay out in the cold”. The EU has spent the past weeks gathering an aid support package to the region.
Whilst the immediate human cost of this disaster was mercifully low compared to previous natural disasters, the long term affects are being unravelled. For the residents of Petrinja, many had to spend the new year in emergency accommodation with no clear date to return to their rebuilt homes. The town had already been struggling financially due to the decline of traditional industries in the area – this, however, forces the government’s hand to invest in redeveloping the town. For the time being, many have seen their lives ruined with no word on when they may see their homes again.