Saturday, 16 January 2021

3.5 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Petrinja

ZAGREB, 16 January, 2021 - A moderate earthquake, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, jolted the Petrinja area of central Croatia at 10.59 am on Saturday, the country's seismological service said.

The epicentre of the tremor was 11 kilometres west of Petrinja, about 45 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. The intensity at the epicentre was IV-V degrees on the EMS scale.

The earthquake was also felt in Zagreb.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Croatia Earthquake Included on European Parliament Agenda

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - At its plenary session next week, the European Parliament will discuss aid to Croatia to alleviate the consequences of a devastating earthquake that struck the country, Croatian MEPs announced on Friday at an online press conference organised by the European Parliament Office in Zagreb.

MEPs Valter Flego, Predrag Fred Matić and Željana Zovko announced the agenda of the plenary session due to take place in Brussels from 18 to 21 January.

One of the topics on the agenda is the provision of relief to the areas of Croatia that were devastated by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck on 29 December.

The basic idea of the proposed resolution on the alleviation of the consequences, initiated by Valter Flego (IDS, Renew), is to draw attention to the fact that recovery from the earthquake will be a long process. The document will be put to a vote on Thursday.

The resolution will bring the Commission's attention to the importance of reducing and overcoming bureaucratic obstacles, monitoring the state of the public and private sectors, the need to revitalise the economy and provide maximum support for the reconstruction of the affected areas. It will also invite the Commission to ensure maximum support for the Croatian government in addressing the consequences of the earthquake, Flego said.

"I am pleased that on Thursday we will get a strong resolution representing the European Parliament's position on aid to Croatia," Flego said, thanking his colleagues for their cooperation.

Željana Zovko (HDZ, EPP) also said that the resolution was a sign of strong parliamentary support for Croatia.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Par'l Committee: Concrete Support to Farmers in Earthquake-Hit Areas Needed Now

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Farmers in earthquake-hit areas need concrete help immediately so that they can stay and live and work there, it was said at a meeting of the parliamentary Agriculture Committee on Friday.

In three months' time the committee will convene to analyse what has been done to assist people affected by the earthquakes in 2020.

Farmers are faced with many problems - damaged houses, farm buildings and equipment, polluted wells and buyers who are taking advantage of the situation and offering low prices for their cattle, the committee heard.

The one thing that is obvious is that no one wants to leave their homes, the committee chair, MP Marijana Petir, said.

She said that farmers should be provided with temporary accommodation as soon as possible but also with shelter for farm animals. "We need to act quickly and concretely because if farms shut down, they will never reopen," underscored Petir.

She added that applications for farm support need to be make simpler for earthquake-hit areas as farmers there cannot meet the current criteria.

Everyone needs help immediately

Božidar Antolec from a local action group called for help so that local farmers can place their products on the market and that they be temporarily exempted from paying contributions or at least that they be deferred.

Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HPK) president Mladen Jakopović said that two large retail chains had offered to place farmers' products from earthquake areas on their shelves through a simplified procedure and one had promised logistics in that regard.

The HPK advocates that support should be provided so that people remain in the area. Jakopović said that the HPK was delivering the first of several housing containers to the area today.

The committee's deputy chair, MP Ružica Vukovac (DP), said that there were problems on the ground, presenting an example in Donja Bačuga where it took three days for the competent services to save a herd of cattle, which, she said, showed that there was a problem in the chain of command.

Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and state secretary Tugomir Majdak rejected this criticism, saying that they had been in the field constantly.

"That is not a realistic description. The cattle wasn't abandoned and there is no need to exaggerate the situation," Minister Vučković said.

She supported the suggestion that the majority of local products should be used in local kindergartens, schools, hospitals. "We are working on that, however, it is necessary to increase production in that area," she underscored. 

Projects valued at more than HRK 1 billion agreed to

Speaking about rural development measures, Vučković said that by 13 January projects valued at HRK 1.08 billion had been agreed to for Sisak-Moslavina County and that HRK 851 million had been paid out. HRK 137 million refers to social and utility infrastructure and HRK 67 million of that has been paid out.

Rural development measures for family-run farms valued at HRK 164 million have been agreed to for 81 projects and 29 projects valued at HRK 1.7 million have been agreed to for emergency aid due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 451 projects for the development of small farms, launching of non-farming activities and support to young farmers valued at HRK 80.3 million have also been agreed to, said Vučković and added that direct payments were accelerated and that to date HRK 93 million, which is usually paid as of 15 February, had already been paid out.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Another Fairly Strong Earthquake Rocks Petrinja

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - The Croatian seismological service registered another fairly strong earthquake near the central town of Petrinja on Friday, measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale. 

Seismographs recorded the tremor at 13.01 hours about 17 kilometres west of Petrinja with a magnitude of 4.1 on the Richter scale. Its intensity at the epicentre was V degrees on the EMS scale.

A moderate tremor of 3.1 on the Richter scale was registered near Petrinja during the night as well, with the intensity at the epicentre of IV degrees on the EMS scale.

Since midnight, a total of eight tremors have been registered in the Petrinja area with magnitudes of between 2 to 3 on the Richter scale. Those were aftershocks.

Friday, 15 January 2021

No Reconstruction Possible Without Imported Workers, Says Daily

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Reconstruction in areas hit by the devastating earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County will not be possible without importing workers from Asia or Ukraine, the Večernji List daily said in an article on Friday, noting that contractors in Croatia are warning of a critical labour shortage. 

The construction sector is one of the few sectors in which the number of workers increased last year, by about 7,000 from the same period in 2019.

Currently there are about 124,000 workers in the construction sector, the third largest in the country, after the manufacturing industry and retail. However, all stakeholders in that sector say that manpower will be the main obstacle to reconstruction in the earthquake-hit areas.

Even prior to the latest earthquake companies in the sector had up to 5,000 vacancies that they could not fill even with workers from foreign markets. In 2020 contractors employed about 23,000 foreign workers while Mirjana Čagalj, the vice president of the construction sector in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), expects they will all remain and that contractors will have to hire another 10,000 imported workers.

Recently channels were opened to hire workers from India and other Asian countries as well as Ukraine.

The Employment Service has decided to enhance its programme to hire the long-term unemployed for public works in Sisak-Moslavina County, its initial plan being to employ about 500 people. Should there be further interest or need, that number can be increased.

Workers in these jobs are earning a minimum wage which amounts to HRK 3,400 net a month, in addition to travel allowance. Social Democrat MP Davorko Vidović, who is from Sisak and has for years been working with the HGK on issues related to the labour market, is confident that that programme could provide a social component but that it will not resolve the problem of labour shortage in the construction sector, the daily says.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Moderate Quake Rocks Petrinja

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - A moderate earthquake measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale was registered at 2.50 a.m. on Friday near Petrinja, the Croatian Seismological Survey reported.

The epicentre of the quake was 11 kilometres west-northwest of Petrinja.

Since midnight on 15 January another eight tremors measuring between 2 and 3 on the Richter scale were registered in the area, which was hit by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake on 29 December which claimed seven lives and caused extensive material damage.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Minister Says HRK 12 bn Secured for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

ZAGREB, 15 January, 2021 - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Thursday that around HRK 12 billion had been secured through the EU Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans and the state budget for the reconstruction of areas hit by last year's earthquakes.

Speaking in an interview with the HTV public broadcaster, Horvat said that clear rules on how to organise reconstruction would be published in the Official Gazette within a month from the earthquake that hit Sisak-Moslavina County on 29 December.

He added that the government still did not have a complete financial framework for reconstruction but that so far HRK 12 billion (€1.6 billion) had been secured.

"Some sources are known and some we are still trying to secure. Around HRK 12 billion has been secured - through the Solidarity Fund, World Bank loans, the budget. As part of the National Recovery Plan we will also seek.... grants as well as loans," the minister said.

The Croatian government earlier on Thursday formulated amendments to the Act on Post-Earthquake Reconstruction, originally intended for the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties, hit by a 5.2 magnitude quake on 22 March 2020, to make the law refer also to the post-earthquake reconstruction of Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties.

The reconstruction of buildings destroyed in the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties will be fully financed by the state.

Bosnian Croats to finance reconstruction of one institution, houses

Leaders of the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina said on Thursday they would finance the reconstruction of one state institution as well as build family houses in the quake-hit areas of Croatia.

This was agreed at a meeting in Mostar between the leader of the HDZ BiH party, Dragan Čović, and local officials from a number of towns and municipalities in the neighbouring country and visiting Croatian state secretaries Zvonko Milas and Nikola Mažar.

Solidarna foundation raises HRK 8.4 mn for quake-hit area

The Zagreb-based Solidarna foundation earlier this week reported that it had raised more than HRK 8.4 million (€1.12 million) for Sisak-Moslavina County.

Some of the donations paid into the foundation's 5.5 Fund have already been used to buy consumables for people affected by the earthquake and the foundation also plans to participate in the long-term reconstruction and recovery of the quake-hit county.

The 5.5 Fund was established by the Zagreb Earthquake Relief civic initiative and the Solidarna foundation after the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb. At the time, the foundation raised HRK 1.5 million for earthquake victims. It reactivated its fund after the earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County and its fund-raising campaign is still underway.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Teachers Union Calls for Deferment of 2nd Semester for Earthquake County

ZAGREB, 11 January, 2021 - The teachers' union on Monday sent five demands to institutions including a request that second semester in Sisak-Moslavina County be deferred for 2 to 4 weeks and that employees and parents in Zagreb schools be informed in writing of the condition of school buildings.

Teachers have called for 2nd semester in schools in Sisak-Moslavina County to be deferred for 2 to 4 weeks after they had spoken to employees and parents in earthquake stricken areas where many of them were involved in volunteer work to rebuild their own homes and those of others.

The union warned than many students do not have electricity connected and that they need time to recover from the trauma and that they are not ready yet to stick to regular curriculum.

Apart from that many students are currently housed in containers and they need psychological help to adapt to their specific situation and in those circumstances it is impossible for principals to organise regular classes.

The union notes that the relevant ministry has sent a questionnaire asking where students are currently located and whether they have electricity but it has not taken into account their psychological-social condition nor their needs in the field and what students, parents and teachers need the most at the moment.

The union warned that neither students nor teachers are currently in a position to conduct online lessons.

The union also warns that parents in Zagreb demand that safe passage to schools be enabled for students and that rubble from the most recent quakes be removed from streets.

"If it is insisted that school in Zagreb starts according to Model A (face to face), we demand that employees and parents be informed in writing of the condition of school buildings that students are expected to attend on 18 January 2021, and for that to be before the start of school with additional information about what level of earthquake school buildings can withstand," the union said.

The union considers that it is essential to conduct evacuation exercises with students and that rescue protocols need to be updated in other counties that have been affected by the earthquakes because it seems that prevention in Croatia is not organised and regular evacuation exercises are not conducted.

The union also called for an urgent response from the ministry with regards to its demand set at a meeting on 29 December calling for employees in education to be among those priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Natural Disaster Declared for Krapinske Toplice Due to Quake

ZAGREB, 11 January, 2021 - Krapina-Zagorje County prefect Zeljko Kolar on Monday declared a natural disaster for Krapinske Toplice municipality where damage from the 29 December earthquake in the Petrinja area has been estimated at over HRK 4.2 million.

Speaking to the press in Krapinske Toplice, Kolar said the tremor caused "very big damage" to the local primary school and that the medical rehabilitation hospital and homes also sustained damage.

Municipal head Ernest Svazic said the damage to the primary school was HRK 2 million.

By 8 January, 36 homeowners reported damage to their buildings.

27 county schools damaged in earthquake

Kolar said 23 primary and four secondary schools in the county had reported damage from the 6.2 earthquake.

As for the medical rehabilitation hospital in Krapinske Toplice, he said the damage was not structural and that it did not affect its work.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

Monday, 11 January 2021

Medved: Accommodation Process to be Realised in Next 20 Days

ZAGREB, 11 January, 2021 - The head of the task force for dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December quake, Minister Tomo Medved, on Monday expressed hope that the process of accommodating inhabitants of the quake-hit area in mobile homes and housing containers would be realised in the following 20 days.

Speaking for Croatian Radio, Medved said that the programme for the purchase and provision of mobile homes and containers had started on the second day after the devastating earthquake and that there were 369 of them in the quake-hit area of Sisak-Moslavina County today.

He also said that 299 mobile homes had arrived yesterday, as organised by the government and the task force, and 70 more were expected during today.

According to him, 1,500 mobile homes and housing containers are needed.

Medved said that 20 housing units had already been set up at the brickyard in Petrinja and people had moved into them, and the same had been done in Sisak's Sajmiste Street and at the parking lot of Sisak's Segesta football club, where 35 units had been set up.

It was announced that Sisak's hotel Panonia would also be reconstructed to accommodate the population, and by the end of the week temporary accommodation should be available.

Medved said that another 222 people were accommodated in Petrinja's barracks.

He said that the state-owned company Pleter had started preparing and delivering food and thanked all hospitality workers who had been preparing food for the past two weeks.

It is up to the municipalities and cities, he added, to provide data on a daily basis on food needs, delivery locations, and the person in charge of food distribution.

"You can rest assured that no one will be left without a meal," he said, announcing that the process with hospitality workers will continue as long as they can and want to.

Medved said that due to the snow and low temperatures, services and volunteers had stepped up visits to all settlements and were handing out sleeping bags, blankets and all necessary materials so that people could overcome these difficulties as easily as possible.

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