Saturday, 23 April 2022

Zagreb Mayor Offers Help to Quake-affected Areas in SE Bosnia And Herzegovina

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - Zagreb Mayor Tomislav Tomašević has offered humanitarian and other assistance to the mayors of Mostar and Stolac after a strong earthquake struck southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina late on Friday.

Tomašević has spoken by telephone with the Mayor of Mostar, Mario Kordić, and the Mayor of Stolac, Stjepan Bošković, conveying his sympathies and offering help, he said on Twitter on Saturday.

Zagreb itself was hit by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake on 22 March 2020 and has received aid from other towns and cities.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly after 11 pm on Friday. The epicentre was between the towns of Ljubinje and Stolac.

The earthquake claimed the life of a 28-year-old woman, who suffered fatal injuries after a rock fell on her house in Stolac. Several people were lightly injured elsewhere in the region, and the property damage is being assessed.

The tremor was also felt in neighbouring Croatia and Montenegro. 

In the southern Croatian border town of Metković, firefighters received five calls for assistance in removing damaged chimneys and shattered windows, while elsewhere in Dubrovnik-Neretva County firefighters were called in to help clear rockslides. 

There was no need to involve firefighters from other areas of the county, the Croatian Fire Service said on Saturday, adding that the situation is under control.

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Saturday, 23 April 2022

6.1 Earthquake Hits SE Bosnia and Herzegovina, Felt in Dalmatia

ZAGREB, 23 April 2022 - An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck southeastern Bosnia and Herzegovina at 11.07 pm on Friday, the Croatian Seismological Service reported.

The epicentre was 19 kilometres east of the town of Stolac. Another, 3.7 magnitude tremor was recorded at 23.14 pm in the same area.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre registered three aftershocks measuring 3.1, 2.7 and 3.9 on the Richter scale.

The earthquake was also felt in neighbouring Croatia and Montenegro.

According to local health authorities, a 28-year-old woman was killed in Stolac after a rock fell on her house and several people in the region suffered light injuries. The property damage is yet to be assessed.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Not One House In Zagorje County Has Been Restored, Says Prefect

ZAGREB, 22 March 2022 - Two years ago an earthquake damaged more than 900 properties in Krapina-Zagorje County however, to this day, not one house has been restored and County Prefect Željko Kolar (Social Democratic Party, SDP) considers this to be unacceptable and shameful.

In a press release from Prefect Kolar's office, he recalls that on this day two years ago Krapina-Zagorje County was struck by a powerful earthquake damaging more than 900 buildings and the worst hit was the Stubica area with several families being evacuated from their heavily damaged homes.

In several communities, almost all of the houses experienced some damage with county authorities saying that the damage caused amounts to tens of millions of kuna.

According to county authorities, a total of 254 applications have been submitted for retrofitting or to have buildings demolished and rebuilt.

The Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets has issued 43 decisions and interim decisions while Krapina-Zagorje County has received 21 decisions of those 43. A further 133 applications have been received for non-structural restoration.

"Unfortunately, we have to state that to this day, two years later, after two laws on reconstruction and two ministers, not one house in Krapina-Zagorje County has been demolished as yet, much less reconstructed, which is unacceptable and shameful," said Kolar.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

HRK 14.3 Million for Natural Disaster Relief

ZAGREB, 13 Jan 2022 - In 2021 the government allocated HRK 14.3 million for relief from the consequences of natural disasters, with HRK 640,000 of the amount going to 14 municipalities and cities in Zagreb County.

Natural disasters were proclaimed in April and July in Zagreb Cunty when frost and sleet caused huge damage to agricultural crops, county authorities recalled.

Government aid for 14 counties

Last year natural disasters in Croatia ranged from sleet, icy rain, frost, drought, and hurricane winds.

The government allocated support for as many as 154 cities and municipalities in 14 counties.

The highest amounts were allocated to Virovitica-Podravina County (HRK 5.5 mn), Bjelovar-Bilogora County (HRK 3.5 mn), and Koprivnica-Križevci County (HRK 1.2 mn).

Damage caused by natural disasters last year valued at more than HRK 2.1 billion

Of the total of HRK 14.3 million allocated as support, HRK 13.9 million was paid to compensate for damage to crops while a small portion or HRK 357,000 was paid for damage caused to buildings.

According to official data, last year natural disasters caused damage exceeding HRK 2.1 billion.

Damage reported to agricultural crops was estimated at HRK 975 million, while damage to buildings and municipal infrastructure amounted to HRK 1.1 billion.

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Tuesday, 14 December 2021

3.0 Earthquake Recorded in Petrinja Area

ZAGREB, 14 Dec 2021 - An earthquake measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale jolted Donja Budičina, 5 km southeast of Petrinja, at 10.18 pm on Monday, Croatia's Seismological Service said.

The Petrinja area in central Croatia was hit by two devastating earthquakes at the end of 2020.

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Friday, 29 October 2021

Parliament Amends Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Law

ZAGREB, 29 Oct 2021 - The Croatian parliament amended the Reconstruction Act on Friday, paving the way for simplifying and speeding up the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb and surrounding counties and removing the bottlenecks that have emerged in the reconstruction process.

The amendments were passed by 76 votes in favour, 7 against and 35 abstentions.

As a result, citizens will no longer be required to cover 20% of the cost of structural reconstruction. In Zagreb, the government will cover 80% of the cost and the City 20%, while in the Banovina region, the cost will be fully covered by the government.

It will no longer be necessary to establish property rights which have until now hampered the reconstruction process, and the ban on disposal of rebuilt property and the obligation to register a lien on the property were revoked.

Public procurement procedures will be accelerated and rules will be adopted on the procurement of goods, services and works whose estimated value is lower than EU limits.

It will be easier to demolish buildings and build new apartment buildings.

Owners of damaged blocks of flats, commercial buildings and family homes will be allowed to perform structural reconstruction work on their own while adhering to the law regulating physical planning and construction. They will then be compensated for the eligible costs of the reconstruction.

Owners will also be able to conduct retrofitting above the level of technical regulations as well as integral reconstruction and then claim financial compensation for eligible costs.

All land title applications for properties damaged in the earthquakes will be processed on fast track.

Opposition: Some solutions are good, some problems remain 

The opposition said that some improvements have been made, that some problems remain.

The dispute between the Construction Ministry and the Reconstruction Fund, namely between  Minister Darko Horvat and Damir Vanđelić, is continuing and it is directly delaying reconstruction, said Peđa Grbin (SDP).

The limits for public procurement have been raised while finance for public buildings has been abolished, which is alarming, added Grbin.

MP Sandra Benčić (Green-Left Bloc) admitted that the amendments added some improvements, but questioned the fact that local government was not allowed to finance reconstruction by taking loans and there were no incentives for self-reconstruction. The greatest risk remains in the area of public procurement, she said.

MP Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge), said that earthquake damage is estimated at HRK 128 billion, yet only three percent of applications have been resolved.

The Sabor did not uphold a conclusion by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) group which would oblige the government to report to the Sabor every six months on the effects of the post-earthquake reconstruction law.

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Friday, 1 October 2021

MP Calls for Ensuring Psychological Help for All School-Goers

ZAGREB, 1 Oct 2021 - GLAS party leader and MP Anka Mrak-Taritaš has submitted a conclusion to the parliament calling on it to oblige the government to make sure all school-goers have access to psychological help due to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic and earthquakes as of the next school year.

Mrak-Taritaš told a press conference on Friday that the Zagreb Institute for Social Research recently published a survey covering 27,000 students, 417 experts and 4,796 teachers.

The survey showed that the coronavirus pandemic has negatively or extremely negatively impacted the lives of most students, affecting their motivation and mental health.

"It is particularly concerning to learn that depression and anxiety have increased significantly among students, as have phobias and fear... Also, a large number of Croatian students live in areas that were affected by the earthquakes and they certainly feel the consequences of those traumatic events," she warned.

Only 43% of schools have a psychologist employed

Mrak-Taritaš warned that the State Pedagogical Standard is not being respected in the school system and that a survey showed that as many as 233 elementary schools employ fewer professionals than stipulated by regulations, and only 43% of schools have a psychologist employed.

She noted that 880 elementary schools have a total of 340 psychologists employed which means that about 130,000 primary school pupils do not have access to psychological help. That means that one psychologist is responsible for an average of 925 students, said Mrak-Taritaš.

According to the electronic records of the Ministry of Science and Education, currently 47% of elementary schools and 55% of secondary schools have an employed psychologist, said Mrak-Taritaš.

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Friday, 24 September 2021

Magnitude 3.6 Quake Rocks Sisak Area

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021 - An earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale was recorded in the Sisak area at 2239 hours on Thursday, Croatia's Seismological Survey said.

This was the fifth quake in Croatia in the past 41 hours, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

The epicentre was near Čuntić, 8 km south of Petrinja, which was struck by a magnitude 6.2 quake on 29 December.

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Friday, 10 September 2021

Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Efficiency Low, Only 2.3% of Applications Processed

ZAGREB, 10 Sept 2021 - The director of the Reconstruction Fund, Damir Vanđelić, said on Friday that the reconstruction process in five counties affected by earthquakes is inefficient, underscoring that the Ministry of Construction, Physical Planning and State Assets has processed only 2.3% of the applications.

“Of the 12,997 applications submitted by citizens, only 2.3% have been processed and decisions made. They are the only documents with which the ministry instructs the Fund or the Central State Office to conduct a reconstruction," Vanđelić told a press conference.

He believes that "no one can be satisfied with the pace of reconstruction," and that everyone, including those in the system, is to blame.

Reconstruction programme resolved only part of the problems

Vanđelić welcomed the new package of reconstruction measures, noting that he had previously warned of the urgency to adopt it.

He believes that the new package of measures will solve only part of the problem. One of the obstacles to reconstruction lies in the fact that the current law has too many implementing bodies that are not cooperating sufficiently. Amendments to the law should centralise project management and procurement.

He also referred to a shortage of staff in bodies dealing with reconstruction, adding that urgent repairs of chimneys, stairwells and lifts need to be addressed in an organised manner. He believes that the cost of structural reconstruction should be fully covered in earthquake-hit areas.

Amendments to law mentioned only three weeks ago

Vanđelić added that even though experts and the Fund had warned that it was necessary to amend the law, it was only three weeks ago that this issue was even mentioned in the Ministry. 

Fund has received 57 decisions from the Ministry to date

Citing statistics, Vanđelić said that the Fund had received 57 decisions from the Ministry, and 21 of those decisions are related to demolitions while the others refer to allowances paid for temporarily securing damaged buildings.

Four houses have been demolished, 224 public procurement procedures have been implemented, with 98 of them being withdrawn as the prices were too low based on the former reconstruction programme. The Fund has paid out 689 compensation claims for damage caused by the earthquake with a total value of HRK 35,827,981.

In addition, the Fund has received 101 interim decisions and 132 conclusions from the Ministry requesting the Fund to determine the facts related to the administrative process of reconstruction applications.

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Friday, 3 September 2021

Construction of Family Houses in Earthquake-Hit Areas to Start on 1 November

ZAGREB, 3 Sept 2021 - The Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing will on Friday publish a tender for the construction of family houses, which is the first step in the structural reconstruction of houses in Sisak-Moslavina County, hit by a strong earthquake on 29 December 2020, Večernji List daily said on Friday.

Interested contractors will be able to apply over the next 30 days, with bids that fit one of the two envisaged models of construction - prefabricated or classically built houses, and the contracting procedure and construction work is expected to start on 1 November, Gordan Hanžek, State Secretary at the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing told the daily.

He explained that houses would be rebuilt mostly on land plots owned by people whose properties were destroyed or damaged beyond repair in the earthquake.

"There are more than 1,000 such properties in the entire earthquake-hit area," Hanžek said, adding that houses for two-member households would have an area of 55 square metres, those for three or four-member households would measure 70 square metres and those for households with five or more members 85 square metres, in line with the Reconstruction Act.

He noted that the duration of construction work would depend on the type of house chosen.

This will help provide accommodation, in a foreseeable time, for people currently staying in housing containers, Hanžek said, noting that currently 4,776 people were staying in 14 container settlements but that there were also 2,195 housing containers located by earthquake victims' homes, Večernji List said.

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