Monday, 30 August 2021

Agreement on Project Documentation for 288 Houses in Quake-Hit Banovina

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - Central State Reconstruction and Housing Office state secretary Gordan Hanžek said, after a meeting of the task force dealing with the aftermath of last year's quakes on Monday, that they had agreed on drafting project documentation for 288 houses.

"It is for houses issued a yellow or red label, which are designated for reconstruction. Project documentation for the construction of standard replacement facilities has been contracted. Those are 55-, 70- and 85-square-metre buildings, for two-, three- or four-member and multi-member households. Contracts have been signed and you will be informed about their content," Hanžek said.

He added that two solutions were planned - for rural and urban buildings. According to Hanžek, the project will first be presented to the owners, who will choose between two available types of buildings. Either type can be prefabricated or traditionally constructed, depending on the owners' wishes. Of course, the construction period is shorter for prefabricated buildings, while the deadline will be slightly longer for traditional masonry construction.

"We expect the first contracts for the construction of replacement houses by the end of the year," Hanžek said.

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Monday, 30 August 2021

PM, Local Officials Discuss Damage Caused by Bad Weather in Požega

ZAGREB, 30 Aug 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Sunday visited Požega to discuss with local officials the removal of damage caused by torrential rain and hail in that Slavonian city in June and July, after which he attended a local folklore festival.

"The government has backed right away all counties and cities affected by bad weather, securing funds for the removal of damage," Plenković said ahead of talks with local officials, adding that the talks would also focus on economic development.

The government has allocated HRK 20 million (€2.66 million) for the removal of damage caused by bad weather in the area of Požega. According to preliminary data, torrential rain and hail that hit the area at the end of June and in July have caused damage to family houses, crops and commercial facilities in the amount of HRK 70 million (€9.33 million).

Accompanying Plenković on his visit were Defence Minister Mario Banožić and Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak.

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Friday, 27 August 2021

520 People to Be Hired for Public Works to Remove Quake Damage in Sisak County

ZAGREB, 27 Aug 2021 - The government has allocated 19.4 million kuna (€2.6 million) for a public works programme for the removal of consequences of the December 2020 quakes in Sisak-Moslavina County, whereby 520 people will be employed.

Labour Minister Josip Aladrović presented the programme in Sisak on Friday, noting that these public works would contribute to the positive trends on the labour market and economic recovery.

"This is one of the measures which the government and the ministry have been implementing since the (December 2020) earthquakes. Apart from this activity, the government has disbursed 300 million kuna to 3,000 employers in this area for grants to 15,000 employees," Aladrović said.

War Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved, who heads the task force dealing with the aftermath of last year's earthquakes in the Banovina area of central Croatia, said employment in public works would contribute to the economic revitalisation of the area.

The measure is part of a set of measures and programmes the government has been implementing in cooperation with the county and local authorities, he said.

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Friday, 27 August 2021

Houses Whose Owners Are in Container Settlements to Be Rebuilt by Winter

ZAGREB, 27 Aug 2021 - War Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved, who heads the task force dealing with the aftermath of last year's earthquakes in Sisak-Moslavina County, said on Friday that priority in the reconstruction process would be given to houses whose owners were now accommodated in prefab containers.

So far, roughly 400 family houses have been rebuilt, next week over 1,500 contracts will be signed with property owners for the reconstruction of their family houses. By 15 September, we will have about 6,000 active contracts on reconstruction, Medved said in Sisak.

He said that priority would be given to the reconstruction of properties whose owners had been relocated to container settlements so that they could move in their rebuilt homes before the winter.

Medved said that the authorities also planned the reconstruction of other damaged structures and construction of a number of apartment buildings in the quake-hit area.

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Friday, 23 July 2021

Damage Caused by Natural Disasters in Farm Sector Ytd Estimated at €68m

ZAGREB, 23 July 2021 - First estimates show that the extent of the damage inflicted on Croatia's agricultural sector so far this year by natural disasters is HRK 509.2 million kuna, the agriculture ministry's reps told Hina on Friday.

These estimates are based on preliminary data collected in the Natural Disaster Damage Registry in compliance with the national legislation on mitigation and removal of consequences of natural disasters.

The ministry underscores that the registry does not contain the final data on the reported damage, or the number o businesses and individuals that have been exposed to the disaster.

The ministry notes that 20 million kuna has been set aside in the budget for mitigation and removal of the consequences of natural disasters this year and that farmers can also apply for aid and funding under the schemes envisaged in the Rural Development Programme.

In addition, the government has already decided to help farmers in the hailstorm-hit Požega-Slavonia County with an additional HRK 20 million.

 Agricultural producers whose perennial plantations have been damaged in disasters can apply for aid under the subsection "Renewal of farmland and production potential" within the Rural Development Programme.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Elementary School in Vrpolje Damaged in 4.7 Magnitude Earthquake

ZAGREB, 8 June, 2021 - The 80-year-old elementary school in Vrpolje near the coastal city of Šibenik, which was the epicentre of a 4.7 magnitude earthquake that struck on Tuesday morning, was damaged, suffering cracked walls and part of the ceiling on the first floor caving in.

The school's deputy principal Stipe Komadina said that structural engineers were expected later today to determine the condition of the school.

About 60 children attend the elementary school in Vrpolje. Lessons will be held in the school today and all the children have been instructed of what to do in the event of an aftershock.

The earthquake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale hit the Šibenik are at 5.59 a.m. on Tuesday. The epicentre was in the Vrpolje area, some 13 kilometres southeast of the city, the Croatian seismology service said.

The national railway operator Hrvatske Željeznice said that traffic between Knin and Split and between Knin and Šibenik was suspended pending completion of an inspection of the railway lines. Traffic resumed later in the morning after no damage was found.

For more about earthquake in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Fruit Growers Fear Huge Damage After Morning Frosts

ZAGREB, 15 April, 2021 - The real extent of damage to orchards due to the unusually cold weather in April with snow and early morning frosts, will only be known in the next few weeks, Croatian Fruit Growers' Association president Branimir Markota told Hina on Thursday.

"We have been in contract with the agriculture ministry during the entire time of low temperatures last week and again last night, and have discussed the possible consequences these unfavourable conditions will have for fruit growers. The real extent of the damage will only be visible in a few weeks and once we know it and depending on the possibilities, we will certainly seek assistance," Markota told Hina.

A huge problem exists because insurance policies do no cover damage caused by frost that occurred prior to 10 April, he said. 

That's something that will be discussed with insurance companies and the ministry which covers 70% of the cost of insurance premiums from Measure 17 of the Rural Development Programme, Markota explained.

Fruit growers usually insure their crops via Measure 17 - Risk management and Sub-measure 17.1 - Insurance of crops, animals and plants.

For more about agriculture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Monday, 22 March 2021

VIDEO: Zagreb Earthquake 2020, One Year Later

March 22, 2021- On the Zagreb Earthquake 2020 first anniversary, TCN reporters Ivor Kruljac and Jose Alfonso Kusijanović took to Zagreb's streets to see how locals feel one year later. 

6:24 AM March 22, 2020. It was Sunday, but sleep was as light as it was a workday full of obligations. Zagreb's citizens were awakened by a horrible sound followed by walls shaking, the ground trembling and things falling all over the place. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, at the very end of the first week of the first lockdown where it was advised to stay indoors to prevent the spread of the virus, there was no choice but to rush out of the house, discombobulated and without a clue of what exactly is the damage that 5.5 magnitude earthquake did. Individuals, couples, and entire families were outside but at a distance from one another, and just after the first aftershock, it started to snow. If you didn't leave the very center of Zagreb, the first sign of damage was the cathedral, whose top of the left tower collapsed, and only later you started to see the images of the center, which many compared online to Beirut. The Covid-19 National Response Team expressed its condolences on TV but warning everyone to keep the distance due to corona. Emergency services rushed to the city, later followed by the army. People who lost their homes were taken to student dorms and other locations with free space in the following days. Sadly, a 15-year-old-girl was fatally injured during the earthquake and passed away at Klaićeva's Children Hospital.

One year later, citizens of Zagreb still have mixed feelings about the event. Here are their answers in our short interview.

 

Shaking the memory

Senior citizen Ljerka was walking around European Square. Her home survived the quake, and the aftermath was books that fell from a shelf and broken bottles and jars in her pantry.  She learned about that damage after a few days when she returned home from her sister's because she was too scared to be alone. The memory of last year still gives her the chills. „I jumped out of bed and lost my head; you have no idea where to go. You don't know what to do. I quickly grabbed something, half-dressed, rushed to the street. People were standing outside confused who didn't know where to go or what to do, nothing“, she said. Describing herself as an optimistic person, the scary experience is still stuck with her even one year later. „You remember it from time to time, but you can't forget it," said Ljerka.

A young guy named Dejan Jakovljević was casually walking around a crowded Dolac market, carefully with a mask to respect the measures in the crowds. He handled the earthquake pretty well as he lives in a new building with lots of concrete and reinforcement. 

„It woke me up, but I knew it was an earthquake. It didn't scare me. I just waited for it to be over“, said Dejan. Responding to how he feels about it one year later, he briefly acknowledged that he „honestly forgot about it. “

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

The same can't be said for American-born Stefanie Mikac from New York. We met her while she was walking her dog in Zrinjevac park. Her home was badly damaged. „I was in the bathroom dancing left and right. I didn't think it was an earthquake, I thought 'what is it, the devil had come!’ and there was smoke“, remembered Stefanie. When she realized it was an earthquake, she hid under the door, and when it passed, she searched for her dog that hid in the apartment before finally escaping her flat. On her trip to Hawaii, where earthquakes are quite frequent, she accepted that there is not much you can do against mother nature. Despite her bad experience, a year later, she feels safe in Zagreb. „Very secure, safe. You know, you have to take things as they come, “ said Stephanie sharing her positive attitude.

We spotted Mira Francem walking on Jelačić square. Her house was built following all the construction demands and proved to be earthquake-proof. Still, the rocky feeling isn't something that she liked. „I personally felt terrible. I had a feeling the whole world was collapsing, and in the end, that feeling of losing the ground under my feet is an instinct, you know?”, said Mira adding that even though her house is fine, the trembling ground was awful. When asked if there is still anxiety over the last year's event, she resoundingly repeated, “yes.”

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

Mladen Habuš was standing on Vlaška street that connects European Square with Kaptol, where the City's cathedral is located.

“My home was okay. The earthquake surprised everyone at first, but fortunately, they don't last, so you stabilize psychologically”, said Mladen calmly, as if it didn’t really leave an impression on him.

“I already forgot about it because it's not as frequent as in Glina or Petrinja, whereas they say, it shakes every five minutes,” he emphasized, and that the key is to remain relaxed. 

December – another round, another rumble

The second earthquake with a 6.4 magnitude that hit Petrinja and ravaged Banovina / Banija didn't damage Zagreb as it did to the southern part of central Croatia. Still, it was certainly felt, and many agreed it was stronger than the one in March.

„Jesus Christ! That one was even worse!“said Ljerka the second I mentioned the Petrinja earthquake. She learned that Zagreb is situated in a seismic active area, and earthquakes are something people in Zagreb need to learn to live with, but March didn't make her welcome the December tremble with more ease. She ran out of the house, not knowing what when her niece, who also lives in Zagreb, called her.

„I asked her if there was another earthquake in Zagreb. I didn't get anything. She said, 'no, that's the aftermath of Petrinja.' We are really close to Petrinja“, said Ljerka.

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Nikola Cutuk / PIXSELL

Stephanie was walking her dog during the Petrinja earthquake. She witnessed bricks falling and was relieved nobody was passing underneath at the time. However, when she returned home, she entered the mess, and the damages that were still not fixed from March intensified. „All the cracks are wider now, and everything will need to be taken down to get to the healthy wall,” said Stephanie.

When asked if the December quake was easier or the same to handle for her, she laughed, acknowledging that it was actually worse.  “We repeated the reactions from the first earthquake, you know? It's a very unpleasant feeling even today when a tram passes or something buzzes. I think something is trembling, and we are quite tense”, shared Mira. She said that no matter how rational you are, consequences as emotions are different from rationale.  “I'm really sorry for those people. My house isn't damaged, but I was scared and lost, and I can only imagine how those people felt. It's a huge catastrophe on which we cannot influence,” said Mira with empathy.

Dejan felt the December quake was stronger but feeling safe in his building; he wasn't too worried. “I instinctively rushed to save the TV. Everything else was irrelevant”, recalled Dejan with gentle laughter underneath his mask.

Despite Mladen being relaxed after Petrinja, anxiety crept up on him too. “You start listening; someone starts a car, you raise your head to see what's going on. You are expecting another earthquake”, said Mladen. Still, he added that “you get used to it.”  

 

Insurance vs. safe building

As revealed earlier this year, 85% of Croatian households don't have earthquake insurance.

Dejan doesn't know if the building had insurance but given his building proved safe, he didn't seem too concerned with that question.

Mira also didn't have insurance, but her investment in the safe building certainly paid off.

Stephanie's home was badly damaged, but she pays 1200 kuna annually for insurance and says it isn't too expensive in Croatia. However, regarding the walls in her home that need to be fixed, there was a bit of an issue. „The insurance company actually secured only the furniture, but then through a lawyer, we made a deal to cover half of it. Something is better than nothing“, said Stephanie.

Ljerka complemented her landlord and how she manages things. Her building received a green sticker but chimneys needed to be removed. Insurance helped there a lot. „We took down the chimney ourselves, and we got the money back, I think 3000 kuna, “ said Ljerka. The roof was renewed a year or two ago, but the same couldn't be said about the terrace residents have in the back of the building. Insurance didn't want to cover it, and a loan was needed to be taken for the fixture.

City officials to the rescue! Or not?

Both the country and international community, not to mention companies and individuals, rushed to help Zagreb, and the now-deceased mayor Milan Bandić found himself challenged to return Zagreb to its old glory and shine as fast as possible. The situation even called for a Zagreb reconstruction bill on the parliament level as the government took the lead in rebuilding the city. In the meantime, Bandić passed away, and with local elections coming up, the city's repair remains a topic for all the candidates that hope to take the lead chair of city politics in May.

Regarding the response of the city officials, Ljerka isn't happy.

„What did the city do? Nothing. It was all ruins. Look at what Zagreb looks like now after the earthquake. How long has passed, and nothing is done. Nothing. Only the houses that people renovated themselves, but the city gave nothing”, commented Ljerka. She did, however, add that the city doesn’t have money and that she understands that.

Mira shares Ljerka's opinion that the situation is better for those who organized repairs privately. Still, when it comes to the city authority response, she says, „it should have gone faster, better, and more organized. “

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

„I see a lot of my friends who live in the center. It's all at a standstill. For those who engaged themselves privately, it is better, but otherwise, it is prolonged. It needs to be better, more active, more engaged to ease the people and make them stronger."

Dejan also thinks that the authorities' response was not good and that “they should help people.“

When asked to comment on the city's response to the earthquake damage, Stephanie was hesitant at first. She feared many people would disagree with her opinion and her different way of thinking because she lived in the US.

“Over there, we have asbestos insurance and insurance for everything. If you have a bank loan and the bank has input on the house, you have to have insurance”, explained Stephanie asking me if it is fair for her to pay the insurance while others don’t and later demand the city to pay for everything. “Imagine if the city would fix apartments for everyone and secure the buildings. Nobody would ever do that anywhere. They may give you a percentage, but that's it,” concludes Stephanie.  

Mladen is happy with the city's response.

“I think the city, to my knowledge and how much I followed, was the only one that jumped to help those who lost their homes and put them in free spaces,” Mladen pointed out. He also reminds us that the government took over the rebuild and the city is involved with 20%. When asked if it’s good for Zagreb that the government took the lead over the city, a resounding yes was the final answer. “The city doesn't have enough money, so the government needs to jump in," concluded Mladen.  

Steady ground wishes above all

Being the biggest and the capital city of Croatia, which attracts people from everywhere in the country and beyond, Zagreb streets offered truly diverse answers to Jose and me. There was more or less fright on March 22, 2020, and different levels of anxiety today. Different views on insurance and the city’s response. We can only guess how differently they will vote in May. But one wish is the constant for the Purger's hearth - the wish to see Zagreb as a safe city where you only get awakened by an alarm clock.   

 For more about the earthquake in Zagreb, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Quake Damage Done to Cultural Heritage in Central Croatia Estimated at €640 Million

ZAGREB, 19 March, 2021 - Damage done to listed buildings and monuments in the quake-hit Sisak-Moslavina County has been estimated at €400 million, while the total damage done to cultural heritage in all the quake-hit areas of Croatia is put at €640 million.

These figures were presented on Friday after Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek met the task force for dealing with quake aftermath in Sisak-Moslavina County for the talks on registering the damage to cultural heritage.

Obuljen Koržinek informed the task force of the next steps to be taken including urgent measures for the protection and preparation of documentation for the reconstruction of individual listed buildings and monuments.

Reconstruction will be such that it will preserve all the features of the area, however, (listed) buildings will also be renovated to be quake-resistant and energy efficient, the minister said.

Yesterday, we estimated the damage to cultural heritage at €640 million, with just over €400 million in Sisak-Moslavina County and just over €200 million in the nine other affected counties. As far as listed buildings in Petrinja alone are concerned, the damage done to them is estimated at more than €100 million, said Minister Obuljen Koržinek.

For more about earthquakes in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Deputy PM Medved: "Initial Quick Inspections Should Be Completed in 10 Days' Time"

ZAGREB, 4 March 2021 - Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved said on Thursday that inspections of the remaining 2,000 buildings damaged in the December earthquake should be inspected in the next 10 days, which would bring initial quick inspections to a completion.

"So far a total of 35,772 buildings have been inspected, 4,227 that were labelled red (unfit for use), as well as 7,743 buildings labelled yellow (temporarily unfit for use)," Medved said during a cabinet meeting.

Medved heads the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake, underscored that a list was being updated of hazardous buildings and that documents for their demolition were being prepared.

He added that so far 2,883 people from earthquake-affected areas in central Croatia had temporarily registered their residence in other towns throughout the country.

He also said that 2,897 applications for reconstruction had been submitted.

Medved advised  that 51 polling stations in earthquake-hit areas have experienced damage and that in agreement with the State Electoral Commission the task force will arrange for alternative localities for polling stations for the local election in May.

Medved added that temporary accommodation is still being organised and to date 1,594 housing containers or mobile homes have been set up.

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