Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Fairly Strong Earthquake Registered in the Adriatic

ZAGREB, 30 March, 2021 - A fairly strong earthquake was recorded at 9.35 am in the Adriatic Sea with its epicentre some 60 kilometres south of Vis Island, the Croatian Seismology Service said on Tuesday.

The service reported that the earthquake measured 4.2 on the Richter scale and had an intensity in the epicentre of V-VI degrees on the EMS scale.

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

Monday, 22 March 2021

VIDEO: Zagreb Earthquake 2020, One Year Later

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

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

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

 

Shaking the memory

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

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

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

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

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

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

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

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

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

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

December – another round, another rumble

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

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

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

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Nikola Cutuk / PIXSELL

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

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

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

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

 

Insurance vs. safe building

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

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

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

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

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

City officials to the rescue! Or not?

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

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

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

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

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Borna Filic / PIXSELL

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

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

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

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

Mladen is happy with the city's response.

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

Steady ground wishes above all

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

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

Friday, 19 March 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Earthquake Damage Estimated at €5.5 Billion

ZAGREB, 18 March, 2021 - The damage caused by a string of earthquakes that struck central Croatia in December 2020 has been estimated at €5.5 billion, based on which Croatia will apply for €319.19 million from the European Union's Solidarity Fund, the government said at its meeting on Thursday.

The direct damage caused by the earthquakes was estimated, in accordance with EU rules and the methodology used by the World Bank, at HRK 41.6 billion or €5.5 billion, which is 10.2% of the country's gross national income, the Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets, Darko Horvat, reported.

EU member states are entitled to aid from the European Solidarity Fund if total direct damage caused by a major natural disaster exceeds 0.6% of the country’s gross national income.

Horvat said that this included the damage done in Sisak-Moslavina County, Karlovac County and Zagreb County, subsequent damage in the City of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje County, as well as damage done to individual properties in Bjelovar-Bilogora County, Virovitica-Podravina County, Požega-Slavonia County, Osijek-Baranja County, Međimurje County, Varaždin County and Koprivnica-Križevci County.

Based on this damage assessment, Croatia can apply for a contribution of €319.19 million from the European Solidarity Fund and will do so, said the Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds, Nataša Tramišak.

Emergency measures that qualify for EU funding include restoration of infrastructure and plants in the energy sector, water supply, waste-water management, telecommunications, transport, healthcare and education, provision of temporary accommodation, rescue services, cultural heritage protection, and clean-up operations.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that he had discussed this matter with relevant EU authorities last week and announced that this week Croatia would apply for funding from the Solidarity Fund.

"I am confident that this time too, just as was the case with initial damage from the earthquakes, we will receive strong support from this European fund," the prime minister said.

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

Monday, 8 March 2021

Magnitude 3.6 Quake Rocks Glina Area

ZAGREB, 8 March, 2021 - A magnitude 3.6 earthquake was registered in the Glina area, Sisak-Moslavina County at 1.44 pm on Monday, Croatia's Seismological Survey said.

Sisak-Moslavina County in central Croatia was struck by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake on 29 December, killing seven and causing enormous damage.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Two Minor Earthquakes Hit Pelješac Peninsula

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - The Croatian Seismological Service on Friday afternoon registered two minor earthquakes that struck the Pelješac peninsula in southern Dalmatia.

First, a magnitude 1.8 earthquake occurred at 12.38 p.m., and two minutes later, at 12.40 p.m., a stronger tremor, with a magnitude of 2.9, struck, the Seismological Service said.

Friday, 5 March 2021

The Croatian Bureau of Statistics Proposes Postponing Census Until September

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - The Croatian Bureau of Statistics (DZS) has put its proposal to amend the Census Act to public consultation until 12 March, under which this year's census would be held from 13 September to 17 October.

Under the existing law, the census was to be conducted from 1 April to 7 May, but was postponed until June because of the coronavirus pandemic and last year's earthquakes. It has now been further postponed until September, with the DZS recommending that it be conducted from 13 September to 17 October based on the situation as at 31 August at midnight.

The census would be conducted in two phases. The first phase would take place from 13 to 26 September, when citizens would fill in the census form online using the e-Citizens application, while the second phase would be held from 27 September to 17 October and would include personal interviews by census-takers.

The previous census was taken in 2011.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Users of State-Owned Properties Damaged In Earthquake Exempt From Paying Rent

ZAGREB, 4 March, 2021 - Tenants and users of state-owned flats and business premises from Sisak-Moslavina, Karlovac, Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje counties and the City of Zagreb will be exempt from the obligation to pay rent or fee for the use of state-owned flats and business premises.

The decision was made by the Croatian government on Thursday because of the consequences of the earthquakes that struck the four counties and Zagreb on 28 and 29 December last year.

Tenants and users of state-owned real estate will be exempt from payment starting from January 2021 until it becomes possible again to use business premises and flats damaged in the earthquake.

The Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property is authorised, Minister Darko Horvat explained, to exempt tenants and users of state-owned property from the obligation to pay rent or fee for the use of state-owned flats and business premises which are managed by the ministry and have been declared as unfit for use following examination.

Since some of the state-owned flats and business premises are managed by the Državne Nekretnine company, the company's assembly is in charge of making the necessary decisions and taking the necessary actions to grant the exemption.

The government also authorised the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing to exempt users of state-owned housing units in Sisak-Moslavina and Karlovac counties from paying rent due to the consequences of the earthquakes after 28 December last year.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Slovenia Donates Nine Trucks Full of Timber to Earthquake-Devastated Petrinja

ZAGREB, 3 March, 2021 - The Slovenian association of wood processing companies, Sloles, has donated a large amount of timber for the reconstruction of roofs in the earthquake-devastated central Croatian town of Petrinja, and nine trucks set out for the Banovina region on Wednesday carrying 300 cubic metres of timber.

Croatia's Ambassador to Slovenia, Boris Grgić, Slovenian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jože Podgoršek and officials from Sloles attended the handover of this shipment at Novo Mesto.

Ambassador Grgić stressed the importance of the aid from Slovenia, which was among the first countries to respond after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Banovina on 29 December, leaving seven people killed and extensive property damage. He said that the aid showed the importance of cooperation between the two countries and good neighbourly relations.

Minister Podgoršek said that this time too it turned out that neighbours were the first to come to aid and that by doing so Slovenians proved to be good neighbours, always ready to help.

Immediately after the disaster, the government of Prime Minister Janez Janša showed solidarity and sent housing containers, power generators, heaters and heated tents, and the Slovenian Red Cross initially donated €10,000.

Several times over the last two months, with the assistance of the Slovenian army and private hauliers, a number of mobile homes and housing containers have been brought to the earthquake-affected region, as well as many private donations of humanitarian aid, including those raised by Croats living in Slovenia. 

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