Friday, 29 January 2021

Croats in Vojvodina Raise Over €50,000 in Aid for Earthquake Victims in Croatia

ZAGREB, 29 January, 2021 - The Catholic churches in the Subotica diocese in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina have raised about €40,000 in aid for earthquake-devastated areas of central Croatia, and another €11,000 has been raised through the Croatian National Council.

The Bishop of Subotica, Slavko Večerin, said in his message to the faithful that a sum of €40,108 would be presented to the Sisak Diocesan Caritas. The fund-raising campaign began on 10 January.

The Croatian National Council in Serbia, acting in cooperation with the Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina (DSHV), has raised about  €11,000 since 30 December and will continue the fund-raising campaign.

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the Banovina region of central Croatia on 29 December 2020, killing seven people and causing extensive damage to property.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Samsung Electronics Adriatic Donates to Croatian Red Cross for Quake-Hit Areas

January 29, 2021 - As a global and socially responsible company that actively participates in the local community's life, to help the earthquake-affected areas, Samsung Electronics Adriatic donated 150,000 kunas to the Croatian Red Cross.

Due to the strong earthquake that hit Banovina at the end of 2020, including the towns of Petrinja, Sisak, and Glina and the surrounding area, many lost their homes and property. A month after the 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Sisak-Moslavina County, donations do not stop coming from all sides. Samsung Electronics Adriatic also decided to make a contribution and, together with its employees, made a financial donation to the Croatian Red Cross to help earthquake-affected areas.

Samsung responded to the Red Cross's appeal with this donation to help the residents of the affected areas, to provide them with the necessary assistance and decent living conditions.

"As an international company that actively participates in the daily life of the local community, Samsung has decided to donate 150,000 kunas to the Croatian Red Cross, which is currently working on collecting humanitarian aid, so that all affected citizens get the help they need. An additional contribution to this donation was provided by the company's employees, who donated their own funds. At Samsung Electronics Adriatic, we think globally and act locally," said the newly elected President of Samsung Electronics Adriatic Hyoung Min. Park.

Samsung Electronics Adriatic operates in eight countries in the region. These include Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Northern Macedonia. It sets new standards in the world of televisions, smartphones, wearables, tablets, digital home devices, network systems, as well as solutions in the areas of memory, LSI systems, and LED devices.

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Monday, 25 January 2021

Petrinja Quake to Bring Into Question Nuclear Waste Disposal Site at Trgovska Gora?

ZAGREB, 25 January, 2021 - The devastating earthquake that hit Sisak-Moslavina County and the town of Petrinja on 29 December serves as a warning of how much that area is prone to earthquakes and plans for the construction of a radioactive waste disposal site in that part of Croatia should be reconsidered.

This was stated during a debate in the Bosnia and Herzegovina parliament on Monday, with Snježana Cvijić Amulić, who is the Republika Srpska Seismological Institute's official in charge of observational seismology, said that the energy released by the earthquake that struck Petrinja was such that the existing projections of seismic activity would have to be revised both on the Croatian and the Bosnian side of the border.

"We can no longer talk about the maximum eight but the maximum nine degrees on the Mercalli scale (in) the most critical seismic location," Cvijić Amulić said during the debate, organised by the Greens parliamentary group.

The debate was yet another event held as part of a campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina geared towards preventing the construction of the radioactive waste disposal site at Trgovska Gora in Dvor municipality, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The underground storage facilities that are part of the former Čerkezovac barracks should be repurposed for the storage of low and medium radioactive waste.

As of 2020 the management of the former barracks has been within the remit of the Croatian Fund for financing the decommissioning of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) and the disposal of NEK radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

That fund has been tasked with determining if the location is suitable for that purpose by making an environmental impact study, to include geological, geohydrological, geomorphological, ecological, seismological and other exploratory activities.

Only if the research shows that the project will not have a negative impact on the environment will the procedure be launched to obtain a building permit.

The Croatian towns of Dvor and Petrinja, too, have opposed the project.

BiH Foreign Trade and Economy Minister Staša Košarac said today that in the worst-case scenario his country could seek international arbitration.

Monday, 25 January 2021

Magnitude 3.4 Aftershock Jolts Petrinja Area

ZAGREB, 25 January, 2021 - A magnitude 3.4 earthquake was registered near Petrinja at 1.37 a.m. on Monday, Croatia's Seismological Survey said.

The epicentre was 6 km southwest of the city. The Petrinja area was struck by a 6.2 magnitude quake on 29 December, killing seven people and causing enormous damage.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Structural Engineers: Quake Damaged Old, Some Poorly Reconstructed Buildings

ZAGREB, 24 January, 2021 - The most damaged buildings in the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck the Banija region on 29 December were old and some poorly reconstructed houses, while well-built houses have survived, the structural engineers who visited most of the affected areas have told Hina.

Structural engineers arrived in Petrinja on the morning of 29 December to see the effects of a magnitude 5 foreshock that hit the day before.

When the 6.2 tremor occurred shortly after noon on the 29th, we had to check everything again, says Mario Uroš, a professor at the Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering and a member of a group launched to determine the effects of the March 2020 Zagreb earthquake.

Nearly 1,300 structural engineers are registered with the Earthquake Engineering Centre which they launched then as a platform for entering information on inspected buildings.

Uroš says that in the first week after the 29 December earthquake, 200 teams with 500 engineers were engaged in and around Petrinja, Glina and Sisak. They used to enter information on 2,000 to 2,500 buildings inspected per day, twice as many as after the Zagreb quake.

Initially, all engineers participated in those inspections on a voluntary basis. Later, those who asked for them received per diems. Some companies would no longer allow their employees to volunteer, but many continued to work as volunteers.

One of them was Davor Grandić, a professor at the Rijeka Faculty of Civil Engineering who spent a week in Banija. He says the quake was extremely strong and that the damage was as expected.

Uroš says the number of actually destroyed buildings is high, but less than one might conclude by following the media.

Poorly built houses were damaged

Most of the damaged buildings were made of unreinforced masonry walls and bricks, Uroš says, adding that some new buildings were damaged but that 95% of those damaged were old.

The centre of Petrinja clearly shows that valuable historical heritage cannot survive if it is not reconstructed, he says.

Wooden houses fared best because they are light and can greatly absorb the blow and expend the energy of an earthquake, says Grandić.

Reinforced concrete houses that were built according to code also fared well, adds Uroš.

Most buildings have problems with chimneys and parts of gable walls, so we recommended their urgent removal, says Grandić. He adds that damage was frequent also due to construction of different quality.

How did post-war reconstruction affect demolition?

There has been a lot of public discussion about the fact that villages which were completely reconstructed after the 1991-95 war sustained unexpectedly extensive damage. Grandić and Uroš say the houses that were properly reconstructed resisted the earthquake.

A large majority of buildings was reconstructed well, Uroš says, adding that the reconstruction projects are quite good and that problems were probably due to unsupervised construction.

All the damaged houses had gross engineering errors during execution. Who is guilty, I don't know. It can be established easily, he says.

Houses that during reconstruction were built from scratch did not sustain major damage and are usable, says Grandić, while those that were reconstructed on existing foundations in an attempt to retain existing building outlines, which many owners wanted, sustained extensive damage.

Uroš agrees, saying that a typical error was that a house was repaired but not reconstructed. This means that a house was practically restored to its original condition, which was allowed in post-war reconstruction to facilitate refugee returns and due to the enormous number of houses that had to be reconstructed.

In such a strong earthquake, a well-built house may be damaged but it must not collapse or become dangerous to live in, says Uroš.

Regardless of the criticisms of the post-war reconstruction, reconstructed houses have resisted the earthquake relatively well, except in cases of gross construction errors, he adds.

Friday, 22 January 2021

New Seismological Equipment Set Up at Petrinja Cemetery

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - Seismologist Krešimir Kuk set up and presented new earthquake-monitoring equipment at the cemetery in Petrinja on Friday, saying it would monitor the seismic activity of the series of tremors in the wider epicentral area that began recently.

Kuk set up seismographs and accelerographs procured for Croatia's Seismological Survey by the Science and Education Ministry for HRK 4.5 million.

The Petrinja area was struck by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on 29 December and Kuk said the series of tremors was still very active.

"As expected, in time it will become weaker, both in terms of strength and frequency, but we expect seismic activity for several more months. The more time passes, the weaker the earthquakes," he said, underlining the importance of using reinforced concrete in construction.

Kuk said seismological equipment was very important but that good equipment was never enough because it would cover only the narrow epicentral area.

"There is a shortage of manpower and equipment, and now we must achieve a whole telecommunication infrastructure for the signal from this area to reach Zagreb, where it will be promptly processed. When these 20 seismographs are set up in this wider area, we will be able to say that we have the basis for registering every earthquake that occurs in this wider area in this series."

Having procured this equipment, for the first time in Croatia's history its Seismological Survey has the possibility to rapidly respond in case of stronger earthquakes and a mobile seismological equipment set which will be used across the country as needed.

Friday, 22 January 2021

German Firefighters Bring Third Convoy of Aid to Quake-Hit Area

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - Forty-three German firefighters from the state of Baden-Württemberg on Friday brought the third convoy of aid to the quake-hit area in Croatia aboard 16 trucks and four vans, including 17 housing containers, firefighting equipment and construction materials.

The donation also included an ambulance.

The convoy was welcomed by a Croatian foreign ministry state secretary, Zdenko Lucić, and county fire marshal Mijo Brlečić.

The first convoy from Baden-Württemberg arrived on 2 January, bringing 110 tonnes of firefighting equipment, medical supplies and food.

The second, 23-truck convoy arrived on 8 January, bringing firefighting equipment, construction material, clothes, hygiene products and food. The donation included five vehicles for firefighters in the quake-hit area.

Fire marshal Brlečić thanked the German firefighters for their donation.

Friday, 22 January 2021

EP Adopts Resolution on Mitigating Consequences of Croatia Earthquakes

ZAGREB, 22 January, 2021 - Members of the European Parliament on Thursday adopted by a vast majority a resolution on mitigating the consequences of last year's earthquakes in Croatia, asking that all available EU instruments be used to help the country.

The resolution was supported by 677 MEPs while five voted against and one abstained.

Participating in drafting the resolution, initiated by Croatian MEP Valter Flego, were all Croatian members of the European Parliament.

The draft resolution "calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the EU and Croatian institutions, to devise a swift way of distributing the necessary financial and other assistance to ensure a speedy recovery of the affected areas."

In approving financial aid, the Commission is called upon to take account of the fact that Croatia is at the same time also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Croatia is called upon to prioritise "renovation in its recovery and resilience plan, devoting particular attention to comprehensive preventative renovations that ensure the highest seismic standards for housing and buildings at greatest risk in its most earthquake-prone regions."

Croatia is called upon to carefully monitor post-earthquake reconstruction to make sure the highest seismic standards are ensured for all buildings and infrastructure. 

The document says that the reconstruction process should be carried out as swiftly as possible, respecting transparency, applying best professional practices and taking account of the demographic aspect. Special focus should be placed on building the basic infrastructure that was lacking prior to the earthquake and access to basic needs and services should be promptly re-established in all parts of the affected areas.

The Commission is called upon to extend the 18-month time limit for the use of funds from the European Solidarity Fund in the event of a devastating earthquake.

The document also stresses the importance of prioritising residents of the affected areas for COVID-19 vaccination and encourages the Croatian government to implement the decision it has announced to redirect a significant proportion of its vaccine supply to Sisak-Moslavina County. 

The resolution also welcomes the decision of EU member states to give part of their vaccination supplies to Croatia.

Last year Croatia was struck by two strong earthquakes that were followed by a number of aftershocks. On 22 March, a 5.5 earthquake shook Zagreb and two adjacent counties, killing a 12-year-old girl and damaging over 26,000 buildings. On 29 December, a 6.2 earthquake struck Sisak-Moslavina County, killing seven people and demolishing over 30,000 buildings.

Monday, 18 January 2021

Magnitude 2.6 Tremor Recorded at Markuševec, Outside Zagreb

ZAGREB, 18 January, 2021 - A weak earthquake, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, was recorded just north-east of Zagreb early on Monday morning, the seismological service said.

The tremor was recorded at 3.49 am and its epicentre was near Markuševec, about eight kilometres northeast of the capital. The intensity at the epicentre was III degrees on the EMS scale.

A 5.5 earthquake rocked Zagreb on 22 March 2020, causing extensive property damage and killing a 12-year-old girl.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

EP to Call For Swift, Sustainable Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in Croatia

ZAGREB, 17 January, 2021 - Members of the European Parliament will vote next week on the reconstruction of earthquake-hit Croatia and call on the Commission to define, in cooperation with European and Croatian institutions, how to quickly distribute the necessary financial and other aid for a swift recovery of the areas affected.

At a plenary on Thursday, the European Parliament will also debate and vote on a resolution on alleviating the aftermath of the two quakes that struck Croatia last year - the one on 22 March in Zagreb and parts of Krapina-Zagorje County which damaged over 26,000 buildings, and the one on 29 December which devastated Petrinja, Sisak, Glina, Hrvatska Kostajnica, Majske Poljane and other villages, killing seven, injuring 26 and demolishing over 30,000 buildings.

Croatian MEPs from all parliamentary groups took part in drafting the resolution.

The draft resolution calls on the Commission to define, in cooperation with European and Croatian institutions, how to quickly distribute the necessary financial and other aid for a swift recovery of the areas affected.

The Commission is also called upon, in approving financial aid, to take account of the fact that Croatia is also dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and a series of aftershocks.

Croatia is called upon to prioritise in its recovery and resilience plan, a key document for drawing funds from the Next Generation EU instrument, the reconstruction of houses and buildings, seeing to it that they are earthquake-resistant

The Croatian authorities are called upon to closely supervise post-earthquake reconstruction so that the highest seismic standards are ensured for all buildings and infrastructure.

The draft resolution says the reconstruction and construction process should be carried out as quickly as possible, transparently and under expert supervision, and that it should take account of the demographic aspect so that the area affected could have development prospects.

The document recommends paying special attention to building the infrastructure that was missing even before the earthquake and to making sure that all the basic needs are met and services provided in every part of the area affected.

The Commission is called upon to extend the 18-month deadline for utilising funds from the European Solidarity Fund in the event of a devastating earthquake.

The draft resolution praises the efforts of the rescue forces, Civil Protection, the Croatian army, volunteers, civil society organisations, international organisations as well as the local, regional and national authorities in saving lives and alleviating the effects of the tremor.

The text also recommends giving priority in COVID-19 vaccination to the quake-hit area and encourages the government to carry out its announcement that it will direct a significant number of doses to Sisak-Moslavina County.

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