Monday, 22 March 2021

Minister Says Organised Reconstruction in Zagreb to Start in June

ZAGREB, 22 March, 2021 - Physical Planning and Construction Minister Darko Horvat said on Sunday, ahead of the first anniversary of the 22 March 2020 earthquake in Zagreb, that preparations for the process of reconstruction were underway and that organised reconstruction would start in June.

"The process has not come to a halt. It is complex and is proceeding slowly," the minister said in an interview with Nova TV, noting that buildings damaged in the earthquake had been prepared for demolition or reconstruction.

He noted that a delay was possible if problems occurred in the procurement and appeals procedures.

"But we plan to have concrete contracts and start with organised reconstruction in June," Horvat said.

He noted that the reconstruction process would be carried out by Croatian construction companies but that foreign ones could be hired as well, depending on the dynamic of obtaining the necessary funding.

Asked if the state would cover interest on loans to be taken by citizens for reconstruction costs, Horvat said that this was being discussed with banks and that it yet remained to be seen if the state would also take over the financing of a part of the loan principal.

He recalled that staff at his ministry could help citizens write requests for reconstruction and that those requests could be submitted by mail or through the e-obnova system.

Until all contracts for the entire job of reconstruction are signed, there will be no excavators in the streets, Horvat said.

"If we want to use money approved by the European Commission fairly and in line with strict EC rules, the procedure must be followed," he said.

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. “

PXL_220320_28505300.jpg

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.”

PXL_220320_28505678.jpg

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.

PXL_220320_28505678.jpg

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. “

PXL_220320_28505627.jpg

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.

 

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Croatia Earthquakes: Why, Where and When They Happen

January 19, 2021 – The relief effort is nationwide, international. Media pages are awash with the aftermath and repercussions. The devastating earthquake in Petrinja has created unforgettable images and changed lives forever. With the ground still shaking from sizeable aftershocks, we caught up with one of the country's leading geologists, working in the field near Petrinja, to as him why, where and when Croatia earthquakes happen?

“Once in 100 years”, they said, after the large earthquake hit Zagreb in March 2020. But, in late December, another. This time near Petrinja. Then, unbelievably, an even greater tremor - the biggest yet - on the following day. The aftershocks are considerable. They arrive after those from March's earthquake had only just begun to subside. It's a little wonder people can't sleep at night.

Stood on this shaky surface, our nerves on edge and with too many questions to ask, TCN tried to find some solid ground by turning to science. We spoke with one of the best-placed people in the country to tell us all about Croatia Earthquakes - why they happen, where they happen and when they will happen. We interviewed Josip Stipčević of the Geophysics Department, University of Zagreb, while he was on-site in Petrinja.

JosipStipevi.jpgJosip Stipčević and the Geology Department of the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb © University of Zagreb

My name is Josip Stipčević and I'm an assistant professor in the Department of Geophysics at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. At our faculty, part of what we do is explore underground and undertake research using seismic waves. We record earthquakes. The geology department explores rocks.

Seismologists and geologists have instruments all around Croatia that record earthquakes. Immediately following the large earthquake near Petrinja, I joined geology colleagues in the near vicinity of the earthquake to look for surface ruptures, visible cracks on the surface. Because of the weather conditions and type of ground, it was important we go immediately because some of these expressions of the earthquake may be quickly lost.

The work we did will form the basis of a report that takes in geological and seismological findings. It's important to integrate these different sets of data with satellite and GPS measurements to learn as much as possible about the earthquake - why it happened, where it happened, what actually happened - how it progressed. You want to build up the most detailed and accurate account of the event. By doing this, it may give us a better understanding of what might take place in the future.

What we already knew was that this is an area where Croatia earthquakes happen. What we don't know is how often they happen or exactly why they happen - what are the forces that drive this build-up of strain in the earth's crust?

Croatian_Geological_Institute.jpgOutdoor educational board constructed by Professor Stipčević's colleagues from the Croatian Geological Institute © Croatian Geological Institute

There were quite a lot of us working in the area, over at least two different sites. It will take months more to analyze all of our findings. I was with a group from the University of Zagreb but there were colleagues from the Geology Institute also. A lot of us.

Croatia Earthquakes: Why do they happen?

Our Earth is a geologically alive planet. The Earth's core is hot. It is gradually cooling, over billions of years since it was formed. The heat must be released. There is convection taking place within the earth - a heat transfer. This is what drives the movement of the solid, outer layer of the earth which, using technical terms, we call the lithosphere. On the top of the lithosphere, there is a crust - like the outer layer of an onion. Here, the convection of the earth drives the movement of different tectonic plates that sit on the surface.

The_Lithosphere.pngThe Lithosphere, or 'Earth's crust' © KDS44

The surface of the Earth is broken up into several major parts. These are what we call the tectonic plates. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, except not all of the pieces fit so comfortably. These tectonic plates are moving because of the convection. They interact with each other. In some places, you have a divergence - where the plates are moving away from each other and new plates are forming. Then, you have plates where there is convergence - the plates are coming together. In those places, one plate is often going underneath the other or, like here - where we have two continental plates coming together, neither of which can sink beneath the other (because continental plates are more buoyant), we have an interaction where the plates collide. It is this collision that creates all of the mountain ranges in Europe - the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Dinaric Alps and so on. When the tectonic plates collide, there is an expression in the build-up of the energy. That is what an earthquake is.

tectonic_plates.pngThe major tectonic plates of the Earth in the present day © Public domain

The major plates in our region are the African plate and the Eurasian plate. They interact through the Mediterranean. But, it's not so simple. You also have small, fragmentary parts of the plate that are ‘stuck’ between these larger plates. One of these fragments, which is still attached to the African plate, is the Adriatic plate. It exists in the area of the Adriatic sea. Because of the movement of the Adriatic plate, you have material on both sides which is strained. This strain, or stress-energy, builds up in the crust and is released in Croatia earthquakes.

The_Adriatic_Plate.jpgThe Adriatic Plate © Public domain

It is this collision that has formed all of the mountains that exist all around the Adriatic - the Apennines, the Alps and the Dinaric Alps. It is also responsible for the range of volcanoes we find running down the west of Italy and the ones more towards the south of Italy, some of which are still active.

There are two kinds of tectonic plates - continental plates and oceanic plates. They are both different. The oceanic plates are thin and dense, very heavy. The continental plates are thick and more buoyant, less dense. It is so buoyant that it cannot sink back down into the mantle - the deeper parts of the Earth. But, the oceanic plates are dense enough to sink back into the mantle. When that happens, one expression is the formation of volcanoes.

The_volcanoes_of_Italy.jpgThe volcanoes of Italy, caused by the Adriatic Plate © Public domain

The Adriatic plate is partly oceanic and partly continental. Broadly speaking, the oceanic part of this plate is sinking beneath Italy, producing volcanoes. In Croatia, we mostly have the continental part of this plate. It cannot sink, so it instead collides and we have Croatia earthquakes. We had volcanoes here maybe 20 or 30 million years ago, but the part of the oceanic plate responsible for those was consumed. I'm speaking in very broads terms here - some of what you're asking me is really quite heavy stuff, ha! It's much more complex when you delve into it.

Croatia Earthquakes: What are the fault lines?

If you take a pencil between your hands and try to break it, the stress you create will find a point at which the pencil will break. The break in the pencil is like a fault line. It's a different kind of strain within the earth's crust, but the same principle applies. The force is absolutely ginormous and this action has been happening for billions of years, in our region alone it has been happening for many millions of years.

Because this has been taking place over such a long period of time and because the movement is still happening, some of the fault lines become inactive. Others are still active and new ones may even be created. In other parts of the world, these fault lines can run hundreds of kilometres long.

San_Andreas_Fault.jpgThe San Andreas Fault in California © John Wiley User: Jw4nvc - Santa Barbara, California

We don't really speak of 'active faults' because it's so hard to measure them. Some of them exist very deep in the earth. Some of them have surface expressions, but not all. So, it's not easy to say 'we have this many active faults here in Croatia'. You can say that in other parts of the world - everyone has heard of the San Andreas fault in California, it is a huge surface expression. Here in Croatia, the fault lines are smaller. The interaction is not so vigorous as in California, which is where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate meet.

Croatia Earthquakes: Where do they happen?

Rather than active faults or fault lines, it is more accurate in Croatia to speak of active fault areas. We know which areas are tectonically active - where you may experience Croatia earthquakes. Those areas are southern Dalmatia, the Rijeka region, the Zagreb region and the Petrinja / Sisak region.

RTL_Television_depicted.jpgHow Croatia's RTL Television depicted Croatia's fault lines - or fault areas - in their graphic © screenshot

In Dubrovnik, you had one of the most major Croatia earthquakes of the last millennium during the 17th century. It was considerably larger than the one we just had in Petrinja. The whole city was devastated. Extensive damage. Dubrovnik and southern Dalmatia is the area that is most prone to larger Croatia earthquakes. I have just received a grant from the Croatian Science Foundation to explore just this. We are due to start in just a couple of months.

Dubrovnik_from_before_the_major_earthquake.jpgA painting of Dubrovnik from before the major earthquake of the 17th century © Public domain

From what we know, the areas of the country which experience the least seismic activity are Istria and some parts of Slavonia and Baranja. Other parts of Slavonia do have some seismic activity - there were famously earthquakes in the Dakovo area in 1884 and in a wider area of Slavonia in 1964. But these were only moderately strong. From what we know, Istria, Slavonia and Baranja are definitely the safest places where you will not experience a large earthquake. In Istria, you do not see any seismic activity at all. This is because Istria is the only part of Croatia which is on the Adriatic plate. All of the rest of Croatia is on the European plate.

Croatia_location_map.pngCroatia: the areas within red circles are presumed - for now - to be at extremely low risk of a major earthquake © NordNordWest, adapted

Each mountain you see in Croatia is essentially a fault area. That's where the ground somehow had to rise. It is only a question of when that fault line was active. It might have been millions of years ago and the mountain is merely evidence that this once happened, like with older mountain ranges such as the Appalachians in America or the Scandinavian mountains in Sweden and Norway. Or, it might still be happening, in younger mountains like the Alps, the Dinaric Alps and the Himalayas - the earth is active there, there is a collision, the mountains might still be growing. This is where geologists come into the picture. We look at the rocks and we can say when that interaction happened and if it is still happening.

The_Dinaric_Alps.jpgThe Dinaric Alps - a relatively young mountain range. They run down the entire length of the Croatian coast © Pavle Cikovac

It has been said that the fault lines on which the Zagreb earthquake of March occurred and the fault lines on which the Petrinja earthquake occurred are separate. Is it, therefore, correct to say that the Zagreb earthquake of March is unconnected to the Petrinja earthquake?

Basically, we would say yes. They are unconnected. The forces on the tectonic plate are acting on a large scale. The expression of these tectonic forces is different in different regions. From our measurements, we know that these fault systems - Zagreb and Petrinja - are not directly connected. They may be connected in some way, which is not straightforward to explain and not so immediate, but it is not like they are the same crack in the earth. They do not interact directly. The movement on one fault line cannot produce earthquakes on the other.

Petrinja__Croatian_Geological.jpgTop: the fault areas of Croatia. Bottom: The fault area around Petrinja © Croatian Geological Institute

There was an earthquake in Banja Luka. Is that earthquake connected to the one near Petrinja?

They had an earthquake there, yes and an even more devastating one in 1969. That activity does take place in the same fault area as the Petrinja earthquake, yes. But, the connection between the two is still not established. We can only speculate that the stresses and strains on one part of the area can produce earthquakes in another. It is possible that we may have a better answer to this once we have completed all the research we are currently doing. We may be able to say, yes, what happens in Banja Luka directly affects what happens here, or vice versa. You can already do this in other fault areas, such as the one which runs from Istanbul all the way to the east of Turkey.

1969_earthquake_in_Banja_Luka.jpgAftermath of the 1969 earthquake in Banja Luka © Public domain

Croatia Earthquakes: When do they happen?

We can only say what we know from the past and use some measurements that are available to us to guess the probability of Croatia earthquakes happening within a certain period of time. If you hear someone say “Yeah, I know when the earthquake is going to happen”, that’s the time you need to stop listening to that person. They obviously don't know what they are saying. No scientist would say that. What we know for sure is that we don’t know that. A broad estimate, using the data we have from history, is that the probability of a stronger earthquake happening here, something the magnitude of 6.5, is roughly 10% every 50 years. This means that such an earthquake does happen here, but only around once in every 500 years when using a scale of thousands of years.

movement_direction_of_the_earth_in_the_Petrinja.jpgThe fault area and movement direction of the earth in the Petrinja area © Croatian Geological Institute

The second earthquake in Petrinja was a large earthquake. The one the day before, and the Zagreb earthquake in March, were moderately large. Yes, it is unusual that we have experienced these three incidents in just one year, but it is certainly not unheard of. It is possible, like I say, that there is some connection that we don't yet know about between these fault lines. It's an area where research is ongoing and that requires more.

We have experienced three earthquakes in one year. Taking into account that the broad statistics say large earthquakes are predicted to happen within a certain frequency, are we now at a greater risk of another large earthquake happening or can we say that we are at a lesser risk because we have these three already behind us?

It is a difficult, difficult question. The stress was locked in a fault. Once that stress is released, you are much safer. But, if the stress is released in one fault, it may be that it increases the stress on another fault. So, it's hard to say. But, from what we currently know, we should now be safe. But (laughs), nobody can say with absolute certainty that there won't be another earthquake in this area for, say, another 10 years. The reassurance people needed by people who live in a seismically active region comes not from being told “don't be afraid of earthquakes, one will not come” but from constructing buildings that can cope with the earthquakes. But, I am a geologist, not a builder, so I cannot talk about that aspect.

This article was originally published on 8 January 2021

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Interview: HGSS Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja

December 31, 2020 – Croatian firemen, army, police and medical workers worked through after the earthquake in Sisak Moslavina County on 29 December 2020. We wanted to get a sense of the demand on and the experiences of emergency services, so we spoke with Josip Granić. Head Of Service for HGSS, who was coordinating the efforts of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja

This interview took place in Petrinja, just before 12.30pm on Wednesday 30 December 2020

Right now we have around 120 people here. Last night we sent some home. During the height of the operation, we had 192 members of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja and the surrounding towns and villages. Firefighters and police from all over Croatia came. There are more than 200 army personnel here too.

hgsspetrinja.jpg

Because we are part of the operational team of the National Civil Protection, we were already here and involved in the response to the first earthquake. After yesterday's earthquake, I called each HGSS station across Croatia and asked them to prepare at least one vehicle and one team to come and join the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja. The first extra teams to arrive were from this county - Sisak and Novska. They got here around 2pm. Teams from Orebic, Peljesac and Split arrived maybe last, because of the large distance they had to travel. One team came by car, another came by helicopter.

What was the situation like for Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja when the wider team first started to arrive after the second day's larger earthquake?

If I said it was chaos, that wouldn't be strong enough a word. The centre of the town was chaos. Everyone was busying themselves with responding – people were moving debris, firefighters were making their way through, ambulances and police moving through, people of the city in the streets helping out. The streets were filled with dust and smoke. You could hear the sounds of floors and roofs and buildings collapsing all around you.

What were the first undertakings for the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja?

Well, our first response was not only in Petrinja – we were immediately in some of the surrounding villages too. The very first thing we did was send in our search teams and the specially trained dogs we work with. We were instructed by locals. They told us which of the collapsed buildings were likely to have people trapped beneath them. We immediately found one person. It was in the town hall. One lady. The entire ceiling had fallen on top of her. Our colleague from Ogulin found her with his dog. The firefighters worked so fast, so hard to dig her out. They were excellent. It took four and a half hours to get her out. She was lucky. Unfortunately, we also found four more people who were already dead.

We saw quite a lot of volunteers. Who is organising them?

There are many different groups. Many local people were the first ones out on the streets, volunteering. Then, those from the immediate area came - four friends in a car, that kind of thing. |NGOs arrived next – veterans, charities and so on. Then, football fans from all over Croatia arrived. Supporters groups had organised coaches to bring themselves here. At first, nobody was organising them and it was a bit of a problem. They organised themselves. But, it was such chaos that some emergency vehicles, including search and rescue teams of Croatian Mountain Rescue Service in Petrinja, could not pass through the town. This is dangerous because, in search and rescue, your ability to respond quickly is vitally important. After dark, things began to run more smoothly. Many worked until 3am or 4am, then they were sent home. The ones who didn't arrive until much later in the night were incorporated into Civil Protection and assigned to work the next day in villages and towns outside Petrinja, where help was needed.

hgssglina.jpg

How has the demand on what you do changed since yesterday?

It hasn't changed that much. We have been visiting villages throughout the county as quickly as we can, searching for people who may be trapped. Some of these places have not yet been reached by the other emergency services, but they will get to them. We found another alive person who was trapped today. Since early in the morning we have searched 84 villages.

What advice would you give someone who wants to come here to volunteer?

Organise it first with Civil protection. If it is organised with them, then you know you won't be in the way and you will be going to where help is needed. If it's organised with them first, then come. There's a job for everyone who wants it here.

How different is the demand on emergency services in this earthquake compared to the earthquake in Zagreb in March 2020?

Well, our services were not requested during the Zagreb earthquake and a lot of that is because of the structural integrity of the buildings in Zagreb. Most were strong enough to survive that big earthquake. The ones which were damaged were only partially damaged. Many buildings in Zagreb were hardly damaged at all and so many people in Zagreb were relatively unaffected by that earthquake. Here, everyone is affected.

All images © HGSS

Thursday, 31 December 2020

PHOTOS: Majske Poljane, Glina and Petrinja One Day After The Earthquake

December 31, 2020 – Total Croatia News visited Majske Poljane, Glina and Petrinja one day after the earthquake. It is difficult to find words to describe the devastation we saw. Perhaps pictures tell the story better

Majske Poljane
_MG_8376.jpeg

Majske Poljane is a rural community. Such was the devastation here, it was difficult to tell which of the destroyed buildings had yesterday been used for agriculture or if they'd been homes

_MG_8384.jpeg

TCN's Paul Bradbury talks to Majske Poljane resident Vladimir who confirmed that, yes, the building across the lane had been a home, his neighbours had lived there just 24 hours earlier

_MG_8390.jpeg

_MG_8408.jpeg

Doors of houses left ajar, windows collapsed, smashed and broken. Inside, you can see everyday lives, stopped suddenly, frozen in time

_MG_8422.jpeg

_MG_8442.jpeg

_MG_8444.jpeg

_MG_8454.jpeg

Croatian soldiers quickly constructing emergency shelters in the freezing fog of early morning. They came from all over Croatia. Unsure if their damaged houses were structurally safe, parents and children of Glina, surrounding villages and Petrinja stood in gardens and fields, keeping warm around fires. With no electricity, they cooked on barbecues.

_MG_8474.jpeg

Majske Poljane seemed like the most silent place on earth. No single sound, not even bird song.

_MG_8475.jpeg

_MG_8488.jpeg

Even the three village dogs left behind padded around the wet road in silence

Glina
_MG_8496.jpeg

Croatian firefighters walk heavily through the mist-filled streets of Glina

_MG_8506.jpeg

_MG_8510.jpeg

_MG_8518.jpeg

_MG_8521.jpeg

The entire upper floor of this house had collapsed, crushing completely the floor underneath

_MG_8556.jpeg

Volunteers at work on the roofs of two neighbouring houses, between Glina and Petrinja one day after the earthquake. The volunteers had come from all over Croatia

Petrinja one day after the earthquake
_MG_8583.jpeg

_MG_8590.jpeg

_MG_8599.jpeg

_MG_8609.jpeg

Even in the miserably wet winter weather, the greeting sign to Petrinja one day after the earthquake might still have looked cheery, if you couldn't see all the emergency vehicles in the background. 

_MG_8619.jpeg

_MG_8621.jpeg

_MG_8654.jpeg

If you didn't know any better, these might look like damaged derelict buildings. But, 24 hours earlier, these had been a row of thriving storefronts, right in the centre of Petrinja one day after the earthquake

_MG_8660.jpeg

_MG_8669.jpeg

_MG_8675.jpeg

_MG_8681.jpeg

_MG_8685.jpeg

Sisak
_MG_8694.jpeg

Damage to the train station in Sisak. A considerably larger city than Petrinja one day after the earthquake, not one business we passed was working - no supermarkets, no fast-food restaurants. Nothing. Groups of teenagers roamed the streets with nothing to do and nowhere to go

Zazina
_MG_8702.jpeg

The Parish church of St. Nikola and Vida, Žažina near Petrinja one day after the earthquake

crkva.jpg

This is how the church had looked just one day earlier. A couple of metres from the church, remnants of the fire that parishioners had gathered around on Badnjak (Christmas Eve). We later learned that the church organist had been cleaning the organ when the earthquake struck, and tragically he was killed. 

_MG_8711.jpeg

Photo of the Parish church of St. Nikola and Vida, Žažina courtesy of the church, all other photos © Marc Rowlands

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Istria Sends a Convoy of Caravans to Petrinja: 'This Is Just the Beginning'

December 30, 2020 – For the part of the population who have lost a place to sleep, Istria sent a convoy of caravans to Petrinja and other earthquake-ravaged surrounding places.

After the Istrian firefighters went to help the injured in Petrinja and its surroundings yesterday, today Istrians showed a big heart again. Namely, in front of the Žatika hall in Poreč, a convoy of caravans headed towards the earthquake-affected areas.

As Jutarnji.hr reports, the caravan owners from Istria sent 16 of them, equipped, to Petrinja and Glina on Wednesday, so that part of the Petrinja and Glina residents could have a place to sleep.

134038532_1031155950721889_4490292946727794247_o.jpg

A convoy of caravans headed from Istria to Petrinja / Photo: the City of Poreč - Parenzo

This humanitarian action was initiated by Denis Bernobić from Poreč, the owner of a local towing service, together with the owner of a small family camp Polidor near Funtana, Adrian Ukušić. According to both of them, whom Jutarnji found in a convoy near Rijeka while transporting the first contingent of houses, this is just the beginning.

"Private owners of caravans responded to the action, and among them are even some Germans who have their caravan in the Bijela Uvala camp near Poreč. They called me and said they were giving their caravan away with all the papers. People immediately started appearing like crazy from all over Istria, so this is only the first contingent," says Bernobić, who set off for Petrinja and Glina on Wednesday together with colleagues with eight trucks, seven jeeps, and two vans.

They are driving caravans directly to people who were left without roofs and slept outside last night, and they have everything – toilets, beds, and heating.

134040520_1031156090721875_3100565322398996602_n.jpg

The caravans are equipped with food and drinks / Photo: the City of Poreč - Parenzo

"The caravans are also full of drinks and food. There are even wood and wood stoves inside. The van is full of bedding. Everyone helped us to equip them, and the Red Cross from Poreč and Rovinj were especially active, and I thank them for that," says Bernobić, whose phone keeps ringing.

"They keep calling me across all platforms because people want to give away their caravans. So we will drive towards Petrinja and Glina in the coming days as well. We expect to take about 40 caravans to the affected areas in the next few days. Colleagues from Koper and Slovenia who have a towing service also call me to help us take the campers, "points out Bernobić, who took similar action with Ukušić when Gunja was flooded.

The owner of Polidor was also with him in convoy, and he gave two of his camps. Mayor of Poreč Loris Peršurić also supported Bernobić.

"These are all donations from citizens from all over Poreč and beyond. Poreč Red Cross, local committees, and numerous associations and initiatives still collect all kinds of help. This is an unprecedented tragedy. The minimum we can do is help people whose homes have been destroyed, who are terrified, and whose horrors, unfortunately, are not over yet," Mayor Peršurić told Hina.

 Follow our live updates on the situation in Croatia's earthquake-hit areas here; find out how you can donate here.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Croatians Rally, Offer Free Accommodation For Earthquake Affected

December 29, 2020 – As buildings toppled in Petrinja and Sisak today, Croatian emergency services were quick to respond. They weren't the only ones - the Croatian public has quickly rallied round to offer free accommodation for earthquake affected

The sound of sirens was heard for the second day running in in Sisak-Moslavina County today. Some emergency responders were still on the scene, in Petrinja and Sisak, dealing with the aftermath of yesterday's sizeable earthquake. Though today's was much larger, more sustained and much more devastating, Croatian firemen, police and ambulance services did not blink and occupied themselves with helping wherever it was needed. They weren't the only ones.

marinicoffer.jpgŽeljko and Ružica Marinic of Villa Marinic (pictured) and Apartmani Marinic in Primosten were quick to offer free accommodation for earthquake affected at four free apartments. Their son-in-law David posted the offer - which also includes food and support for families with children - across social media

Less than an hour after today's earthquake, help from private individuals flooded social media pages as Croatia rallied round to offer free accommodation for earthquake affected. Holiday homes across Dalmatia and Istria were readily given up as free accommodation for earthquake affected, many of them making their way to a dedicated Facebook group set up specifically for the purpose.

IMG-20201229-WA0012.jpg

But, it wasn't just empty holiday villas by the coast that were made available. People across Croatia have offered to open up their own homes to offer free accommodation for earthquake affected. Apartments and sub-apartments in cities across the country have been made available. To offer free accommodation for earthquake affected for tonight and for however long necessary is a timely and generous move by these private citizens – at just after 4.30pm this evening, rain started to pour down on the affected area and those still stuck outside. Support and offers of accommodation came not only from Croatians at home in the country - Croatian National Team footballer Dejan Lovren opened up the doors to the hotel he owns in Novalja, Pag island for those affected by the earthquake in Petrinja.

132981005_1047838045688593_1083656599524428636_n.jpg

IMG-20201229-WA0003.jpg

Recognising the gravity of the situation, Croatian authorities revoked travel restrictions between the country's counties in order to facilitate volunteers and family members travelling to Sisak-Moslavina County today to help out, and to allow residents of the county to take up the offer of free accommodation for earthquake affected.

IMG-20201229-WA0006.jpg

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

PHOTOS: Another Powerful Zagreb Earthquake hits Croatian Capital

December 29, 2020 – Just after midday on 29th December 2020, yet another powerful Zagreb earthquake has shaken the buildings and streets of the Croatian capital

Just 24 hours after a second large earthquake shook the Croatian capital in 2020, yet another large Zagreb earthquake has visited city residents. The large tremor took place just after midday and sent the city's citizens into the streets, fleeing shaking buildings from which masonry fell. Dust filled the air outside. Everyone is thankful for having their COVID masks. The situation at the epicentre of the earthquake, just over 40 kilometres from Zagreb, is much worse.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit the capital yesterday, its epicentre located in Petrinje. The Zagreb earthquake of 29 December 2020 was even bigger - it measured 6.3 - its epicentre also in the area of Petrinja and Glina in Sisak Moslavina County. This means that the three largest Zagreb earthquakes to have taken place over the last 100 years have happened in 2020.

_MG_8358.jpgCity residents ran out onto the streets after this earthquake

This Petrinja/Zagreb earthquake took place 44 - 46 kilometres southeast of Zagreb. Hundreds of smaller aftershocks were felt over the 24 hours in the Petrinje area. The Petrinja/Zagreb earthquake of 29 December 2020 didn't feel like any of the hundreds of aftershocks that have visited Croatia since the large earthquake in the start of the year - this was much more like the first. Damage to Zagreb from the first major earthquake of 2020 is estimated to have already cost the city in excess of 11 billion Euros. That first major tremor occurred early in the morning, while people were still in bed - the Coronavirus lockdown meant everyone was inside their homes

_MG_8354.jpgOffice workers and people going about their daily lives ran out onto Heizelova to escape the shaking buildings and the dust that filled the air

At the time of publishing, no details had yet reached TCN in regards to casualties from the earthquake of 29 December. No casualties were recorded from the previous day's earthquake. EDIT: Less than an hour after the earthquake, it was reported that sadly a child died in the Petrinja area as a result of the earthquake. Later in the day, a further five fatalities were sadly confirmed.

_MG_8352.jpg

This is a developing news story and Total Croatia News will be updating its coverage as more information reaches us

Screenshot (91).png

Friday, 11 December 2020

Zagreb Hospital Wins Medical Oscar for Care of Premature Babies During Earthquake

ZAGREB, Dec 11, 2020 - Zagreb's University Hospital Centre (KBC) has been awarded the Ocar of Medicine for its outstanding achievement in medicine and outstanding efforts by medical staff at the Women's Hospital in taking care of patients, particularly premature babies during a strong earthquake in Zagreb in March.

With their selfless efforts medical staff and volunteers managed to transfer premature babies in incubators and their mothers to safety, it was said during the presentation ceremony.

The medical staff at the hospital were honoured for their expertise, organisation skills and huge solidarity shown.

International Medis Awards, better known as the Oscar of Medicine, have been given for seven years to the best doctors and pharmaceutical researchers for their work and achievements.

The KBC Zagreb also received a donation from the Medis pharmaceutical company, namely a device for UV-C decontamination of surfaces, which came just in time during the coronavirus pandemic.

The head of the neonatal ward in the Petrova Women's Hospital, Mirta Starcevic, recalled that there were 26 premature babies in the hospital when the earthquake struck on March 22, eight of them weighing less than 1.5 kilograms.

"That night a premature baby weighing 1,500 grams was born with numerous complications. When the earthquake struck we had to evacuate the building and the biggest problem was how to maintain the children's body temperature. All the doctors who were not on duty that day immediately came to the hospital. I have to say that the situation resembled a proper war zone. The thing that we are most proud of and pleased with is that we did not lose any of the babies in those circumstances, which is absolutely unbelievable," nurse Starcevic said.

The International Media Awards are annual awards presented for the best research by doctors and pharmacists in nine countries: Croatia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Hungary, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia.

Page 2 of 7

Search