Thursday, 4 February 2021

Another Aftershock Jolts Petrinja on Early Thursday Morning

ZAGREB, 4 February 2021 - An earthquake measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale jolted Sisak-Moslavina County on Thursday morning, Croatia's Seismological Survey reported on Thursday.

The latest tremor in a series of aftershocks that followed after the 29 December 6.2 strong earthquake, was registered at 5.59 a.m. with its epicentre about four kilometres southwest of Petrinja.

The latest quake had the Level IV intensity on the EMS scale.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Ombudswoman: 29 Dec. Earthquake Has Directly Affected More Than 13,000 Children

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - Over 13,000 children have been affected by the consequences of the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County and those affected the most are children who have been left without a roof over their heads and who were growing up in poverty before the quake, Croatia's children's ombudswoman said.

Experts note that problems to be expected in children who have experienced such a traumatic event include sleep disorders, problems with appetite and strong emotional reactions such as sadness, anger or fear, which manifest themselves depending on the child's age, Ombudswoman Helenca Pirnat-Dragičević, who has visited the earthquake-hit area several times, said in an interview with Hina.

Pirnat-Dragičević said that around 70,000 people, including 13,000 children, had been directly affected by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake which claimed seven lives and caused extensive material damage.

She noted that according to information from the Red Cross, the number of children staying in temporary accommodation was varying on a weekly basis as families were returning to the area close to their homes - to stay in mobile housing units or with their relatives.

She said that she did not have complete data on the number of children who have left the earthquake-hit area, but was aware that many families had found accommodation in the regions of Istria and Primorje, staying with their relatives or friends, and that some had left for other countries.

Pirnat-Dragičević said the most affected were children left without a roof over their heads as well as those who had been growing up in poverty before the earthquake and children in need of special care due to developmental problems or disease.

She said that experts in mental health had prepared ample material for parents with information on what kind of responses can be expected in children who have experienced an earthquake and live in the time of a pandemic and information on how to help them cope.

Parents have also been instructed when to seek professional help and both they and children have been given phone numbers which they can contact for advice on mental health issues, Pirnat-Dragičević said.

She noted that the need for mental health care both in adults and in children was certain to increase in the coming period and underlined the importance of systematic, available and adequate care and support for all who need it.

She pointed to the insufficient number of mental health experts who work with children as well as lack of expert psychological help for children who live outside urban areas, a problem that has existed for years, noting that the recent crises and traumatic events had made those problems visible and that now was the time to address them systematically.

Speaking of the resumption of children's usual activities, including online classes, Pirnat-Dragičević said that one should first establish if all children in the earthquake-hit area had the necessary conditions for online classes.

In some communities, such as those in the areas of Glina and Hrvatska Kostajnica, there are serious problems with signal strength and children would have difficulty following online classes, she said.

The ombudswoman also underlined the importance of psychological assistance to adults who take care of children - parents, grandparents and teachers, noting that webinars had been organised for teachers in Sisak-Moslavina County and the City of Zagreb and that additional workshops were being planned to follow up on their needs. Similar support is planned also for day-care workers, she said.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

New Zealand Croats Collecting Donations for Quake Victims in Croatia

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - The Croatian community in New Zealand has joined in aid raising campaigns for the Croatian areas affected by the 29 December devastating earthquake.

Thus, the Croatian Cultural Society in Auckland has opened a bank account for pecuniary donations for families in Petrinja, Glina and Sisak.

The Croatian Catholic Mission in Auckland already paid 5,000 dollars to a family in the village of Sibić.

The Croatian Cultural Society president Goran Katich said that the society would collect the donations throughout this year and would also organise humanitarian concerts and other events to raise relief for the quake victims.

According to the data provided by the the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Ministry and Trade, there are more than 100,000 Croats and their descendants in that country.

"Croatian immigrants began arriving in New Zealand from the 1850s and today there are more than 100,000 New Zealanders of Croatian heritage. There are also more than 2,500 Croatian nationals living here," the ministry said on its website.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Second Phase of Earthquake Clear-Up Begins

ZAGREB, 30 January, 2021 - The head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake, Tomo Medved, said on Saturday that the second phase of the clear-up process had begun - removing the buildings that were so damaged in the earthquake that they presented danger to human lives and health as well as to adjacent buildings.

The first buildings condemned were the old army barracks and the old department store in Petrinja. Medved said that such buildings had to be removed to clear the ground for new buildings and because they posed a risk in the event of a new earthquake.

The members of the task force also visited a site in Petrinja where a container settlement was being built. About a hundred containers would be used for housing and as many for businesses, while 5 containers would serve as sanitary facilities.

The first containers are arriving next week and all the containers will be set up by mid-February, spokesman for the task force Mladen Pavić said.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also arrived in Petrinja to give support to the task force and thank everyone for helping with the relief effort.

He said that the beginning of the removal of damaged buildings would speed up the pace of the reconstruction process. He added that it was good that 1,025 mobile homes had been set up in the area and that 1,061 accommodation facilities were connected to power supply.

Plenković announced that Transport Minister Oleg Butković, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić and Deputy Prime Ministers Tomo Medved and Boris Milošević would meet with representatives of the state-owned HAC motorway operator on Monday to discuss completion of the motorway between Lekenik and Sisak.

"We think this project must now be given a priority because a better road connection is crucial for the long-term revitalisation and economic recovery of Sisak-Moslavina County," the prime minister said.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

PM Says Opposition Has Turned Its Back on Earthquake Victims

AGREB, 30 January, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that by breaking the quorum in the parliament on Friday, which was why amendments to the law on post-earthquake reconstruction were not voted in, the Opposition had "impudently turned its back" on earthquake victims in the Banovina region.

"Not only did they not enable the adoption of the law on post-earthquake reconstruction, they also prevented the declaration of the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Adriatic and the adoption of the National Development Strategy, which reveals an unbelievable degree of political destructiveness and lack of political culture," the PM said after a meeting of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County, held in Petrinja.

Noting that his HDZ party would never do such a thing, Plenković stressed that amending the Act on the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje Counties to make it apply also to Sisak-Moslavina County would simplify procedures and enable the state to launch reconstruction mechanisms.

"The Opposition's quorum-breaking is an immoral act in the context of the fact that an MP of the ruling majority is in hospital," Plenković said in reference to HDZ MP Miroslav Tuđman, who has been hospitalised for COVID-19 and whose absence the HDZ believes the Opposition took advantage of.

Burden of responsibility lies with Opposition

Plenković went on to say that the Opposition's motion regarding the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) was incomplete, demagogical and populist, describing the Bridge party, which tabled it, as destructive populists and proponents of anti-European and anti-minority policies.

Asked when the new law on post-earthquake reconstruction would be adopted, he referred reporters to opposition leaders, telling them "to ask Mr Grbin, Mr Petrov and Mr Škoro if they plan to help Banovina."

He repeated that the parliamentary majority was strong and stable regardless of the fact that its members did not see eye to eye on some topics.

The HGK needs to be reformed but you cannot just bring down an institution that has existed for more than 160 years, he said.

Amendments to the Act on the Post-Earthquake Reconstruction of the City of Zagreb and Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje Counties were among the motions that were to have been put to the vote in parliament on Friday.

After Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković moved from the agenda Bridge's motion to abolish the mandatory membership fee in the HGK, the Opposition walked out of the parliament, breaking the quorum. Since the HDZ-led majority was one vote short of the 76 MPs necessary to take a vote, the vote on amendments to the post-earthquake reconstruction law was postponed as well.

The Opposition has dismissed the accusations from the ruling HDZ party, accusing the ruling majority of tyranny and disregard for earthquake victims, with Social Democrat leader Peđa Grbin describing the HDZ's accusations against the Opposition with regard to HDZ MP Tuđman as shameless.

Hospitality sector, gym owners should show little more patience

Plenković today also called on cafe and restaurant owners, who have announced protests against the national COVID-19 response team's decision to keep current restrictions in force and only slightly relax some, to show a little more patience, stressing that nobody wanted to restrict business activity but that a large-scale relaxation of the restrictions would not be wise at the moment.

The restrictions will be reviewed on February 15 and if the situation then is much better than it is now and if we find room for additional relaxation, we will do it, he said.

Plenković was in Petrinja to attend the start of work on demolishing buildings that have been found unfit for use following the 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County last month.

He said that more than 1,025 mobile housing units had been installed in the area and that work would also be stepped up on completing the motorway section running from Lekenik to Sisak for the sake of future revitalisation and economic activity in the region of Banovina.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Quake Upset 87% of Citizens, Majority Unhappy With State's Response

ZAGREB, 30 January, 2021 - The magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck Sisak-Moslavina County on 29 December deeply upset Croatian citizens, with more than half saying in a survey they were dissatisfied with the state's engagement and organisation of aid in the affected area, the Hendal market research agency said this week.

The survey was conducted in mid-January and covered 500 respondents, with 87% saying the quake upset or deeply upset them.

About 40% of respondents helped those affected by donating money, 47% by donating goods and necessities, and 8% volunteered on the ground.

Of those who donated money, 16.2% did so directly to those affected, 8.9% donated to the Red Cross, 4.6% to Caritas, 3.3% paid into the government's official account, and 12.6% donated to other organisations and persons.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the state's engagement and organisation of aid in the affected area, 28% were neutral, and only 20% were satisfied.

Fifty-two percent of respondents also said the earthquake had no impact at all on their concern about COVID-19, while 28% said they were more concerned.

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.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

26 Houses in Hrvatska Kostajnica Declared Unfit for Use Since Quake

ZAGREB, 23 January, 2021 - The town of Hrvatska Kostajnica, located some 50 kilometres of the epicentre of the 29 December 6.2 earthquake, has sustained considerable damage from that disaster, and several hundred houses were either destroyed or damaged in that community with about 2,700 inhabitants.

 So far 26 houses have been declared unfit for use.

The mayor Dalibor Bišćan has recently said in an interview with Hina that reports about the quake damage are still being complied and sent to the relevant authorities.

A representative of the Sisak-Moslavina county task force for dealing with the aftermath of the quakes, has informed Hina that so far 400 chimneys and roofs in Hrvatska Kostajnica have been repaired since the December earthquake

This town on the left bank of the Una River, which is also the borderline with Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been exposed to natural disasters in the recent years.

Mayor Bišćan recalls that the quake was the third disaster in a short period.

He recalled disastrous floods and landslide that occurred in March 2018 when 12 family houses were destroyed.

The December earthquakes activated two landslides, jeopardising five houses.

Municipality of Dvor: So far 1,024 reports about quake damage

The mayor of the nearby municipality of Dvor, Nikola Arbutina has told Hina that the earthquake caused damage to this municipality which consists of 60 villages scattered on an area large over 505 square kilometres.

Arbutina, has said that most of Dvor 5,500 inhabitants are elderly citizens, living far from the municipality's centre.

To date, the authorities have received 1,024 reports about the quake damage.

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.

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