Friday, 17 April 2020

Estonian Company Datel Offering Zagreb Earthquake Aftermath Satellite Tech

April 17, 2020 - What if there was a technology that allowed you to monitor movements on Earth to the nearest millimetre? Tech which could help assess the safety of buildings after the Zagreb earthquake, for example. There is. Meet Datel from Estonia. 

The one country I am VERY keen to visit again after all this madness is over is Estonia. 

My first visit was back in 1992 in the early days of the post-Soviet era, and my last a weekend break to Tallinn from the UK in 1996. And had it not been for an increasing interest in the digitalisation of Croatia and the VERY helpful lady representing Estonia in Zagreb during Croatia's EU Presidency (remember that?), there my interest in Estonia might have ended. 

But those Estonians are doing incredible things leading the digital revolution globally, and Zagreb representative Katre Sai has been incredibly helpful. Before all this madness, TCN was in the process of organising a trip to Tallinn with various forward-thinking mayors and other officials and representatives from the digital private sector, to visit Estonia and see what lessons could be learned and partnerships formed. That project is on hold for now for obvious reasons, but it will happen at a later day. 

Apart from transparency, Estonia also has some fantastic tech startups - indeed the four Estonian startup unicorns of Taxify, Skype, Transferwise, and Playtech mean that Estonia has the highest number of unicorns per capita in the world. 

And now, something rather incredible to add to that list, which was sent to me by Katre and could be a great help in helping assess the danger of the many damaged buildings from the Zagreb earthquake - Estonian technology from Space which tracks the tiniest movements on Earth, which can enable damage assessment: 

An Estonian company has reached out to us after the earthquake to introduce their solution for situations similar to this. The name of the company is Datel and they have created a product which enables to detect building and infrastructure deformation using remote sensing satellites to find damaged and hazardous objects, that could be dangerous. Before the earthquake the system can detect building and infrastructures that are structurally deficient (they have 5 years history), thus have a great probability to collapse or fracture. After the earthquake, the system can detect buildings and infrastructure that was damaged (deformed) the most, and the rescue crew can focus their attention (and operations) first to the most damaged objects, saving time and money. Also, the state engineers can use this data to inspect the damaged buildings, which could be unnoticed otherwise. The results are by default delivered in an online map application and ready to use at once.

Rather than me comment as this is not my field of expertise, check out the info below and the VERY informative video. I hope this is useful for some in authority - please feel free to share the service. It has applications far beyond Croatia's borders obviously. You can learn more about Datel and the Sille Space technology on the official website.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Varbonj za Zagreb: Za Krizen 2020 Proceeds Donated to Earthquake Victims

April 13, 2020 - After all the media attention about Za Krizen 2020, what a beautiful footnote and gesture - Varbonj za Zagreb. 

People often ask me what is my favourite time of year on Hvar, and my answer always surprises them. 

Most expect me to talk about the summer, or perhaps the more relaxed shoulder seasons. While these are amazing, if I could only visit my adopted island once a year, it would not be then. 

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It would be Easter. 

There is so much joy and celebration in the air, as the island wakes from its winter slumber, returning islanders home for the long weekend, enjoying family reunions amid this most important of Catholic events. 

After days of silence, the sound of the peeling of the Jelsa bells on Easter Sunday morning is one of the most joyous sounds imaginable, as was evidenced by the number of people who liked, shared and tagged others when I posted the video above from our terrace two days ago. 

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I was very fortunate to be able to attend the entire Za Krizen 2020 in Jelsa, and I managed to capture all six processions. I was also very happy to be able to contribute my eye-witness account of the whole evening, which differed considerably from what was reported second-hand elsewhere. You can read Za Krizen 2020, Croatia Not Wuhan & Cabin Fever Perspectives. (You can also find a Croatian version here)

I had the loveliest phone call of 2020 so far earlier today from Toni Bratanic, the father of this year's cross-bearer from Vrbanj (Varbonj in dialect). He thanked me for the TCN coverage, including the video of Vrbanj entering Jelsa which was edited by my wife Miranda (above). 

And then he told me about a little initiative called Varbonj za Zagreb. Rather than me trying to explain it, here is what Toni sent me in an email which followed. 

Varbonj za Zagreb – Za Križen 2020

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Dear parishioners and all people of goodwill!

On the proposal of the family of Mateo Bratanic, this year’s “Križonoša” and with the support of the parish economic council, we are launching a humanitarian action for Zagreb called “Varbonj za Zagreb – Za Križen 2020” due to the recent earthquakes that occurred there. This benefit, which is very special, has taught us, among other things, about solidarity, in this case towards those who are left without a roof over their heads. And so, a little village by the name Varbonj decided to help the big city of Zagreb. A long-term tradition is that all of those who are in “Čosti” for “Za Križen,” donate physical and/or monetary gifts. Even people who are not in “Čosti” usually take part as well. This year’s Križonoša, Mateo, has decided to give up all gifts in favor of this action and all money planned to spend on lunch and dinner after Easter which is usually held for people who took part in helping in any way during the preparations and actual procession. In addition to gifts given to Mateo, people will be able to give donations to the Varbonj’s priest, don Mili Plenkovic but also directly to the church bank account.

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The account number is HR5824070001100623865 and make sure to provide a note “Varbonj za Zagreb” in the description. The parish will also donate “lemozinu,” money collected during Holy Week. We will be collecting donations until next Sunday April 19th, 2020. This is when we will be announcing the total amount that we have collected.

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Thank you and God bless! 

A nice postscript to a very emotional week here on Hvar. I will write an article about the amount raised after the final amount is known after Sunday. 

For more on TCN's coverage of Za Krizen 2020 and previous years, visit the dedicated section.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Al Jazeera Balkans Follow PM Plenkovic, Health Minister Beros after Zagreb Earthquake (VIDEO)

March 30, 2020 - In the middle of the coronavirus crisis, the Zagreb earthquake piled on the suffering of citizens of the Croatian capital. Al Jazeera Balkans follow Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Health Minister Vili Beros as they respond to the crisis.

The timing - never perfect - was exceptionally cruel. 

In the middle of the coronavirus crisis, and with Croatian authorities working extremely effectively to limit movement and communicate their actions and updates to a concerned public, disaster struck at 06:24 on Sunday, March 22, 2020. 

An initial earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 a few kilometres north of Zagreb was followed by several more throughout the morning and the day. 

Citizens were given a terrible choice of facing corona on the streets or being trapped inside buildings. One 15-year-old child subsequently died after being struck as her building collapsed from the initial quake. There were heartbreaking scenes at Dubrava Hosptial of mothers with newborns huddled in shock outside - all thoughts of social distancing erased from memory. 

With the double disaster of COVID-19 and the Zagreb earthquake, responding to the disaster required cool heads in crisis. 

Robert Tomic Zuber, with his latest documentary for Al Jazeera Balkans, followed two of the key players in managing the chaos currently engulfing Croatia - Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Health Minister Vili Beros. Beros has only been in the job for two months, and his crisis management of the coronavirus crisis has quickly turned him into a cult figure and a cult hero. 

You can see Tomic Zuber's Revizija programme in the video below, complete with English subtitiles.   

For the latest on the coronavirus crisis, follow the dedicated TCN section

For the latest on the Zagreb earthquake aftermath, click here

In addition to his work with Al Jazeera Balkans, Robert Tomic Zuber has recently launched a new portal called R+, full of powerful video stories about coronavirus, told by people in the Balkans, and by people from the Balkans all over the globe. You can learn more about it here

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Zagreb Earthquake Aftermath: Moving Video Footage Meets Poignant Poetry

March 28, 2020 - A very moving and uplifting video in the Zagreb earthquake aftermath, combining great images with poignant property (English with Croatian subtitles).

No need for any words from me, the YouTube channel Marko_Zido says it all about a video it uploaded 2 days ago called Sjeti Se - Remember. 

A few days ago something big happened in Croatia's capital, Zagreb. In the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, we suffered a huge earthquake of 5,4 Richter magnitude. Some people lost their homes, some lost hope & some lost both. It woke us all up in every aspect of life and I want this video to be a reminder to myself & everybody else that our time here is limited, but our love is not.

Take a step back. If you have somebody who would give their whole world just to have you by their side with a smile, don't take that for granted, ever. It's a most precious gift you could actually get on this planet. 

A true and honest human connection. Love. 

Don't waste your days. Go out there, love like you never got stabbed in your heart. Dream and smile like you're 12 years old again. I know, it's not that easy. Some of us have huge baggage from the past, some have toxic people holding them back & some simply don't have the strength to move on anymore. But it's ok. There will come days like this to remind you, that the baggage you're carrying is not that heavy when you have the help of your loved one. That toxic person in your life will leave when you stand up for yourself and that strength you're lacking, it's there just take a look inside. Just don't forget what this life is when everything is over. Be an example for younger generations, fight for the things you believe in or we'll have world filled with people who don't know what love is anymore.

The words to the poem, Good Timber by Douglas Malloch, are below:

Good Timber

        by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

For the latest on the Zagreb earthquake aftermath, follow the dedicated TCN section

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Voices from the Zagreb Earthquake Epicentre by Karla Lemaic (VIDEO)

March 26, 2020 - Residents of the epicentre of Sunday's earthquakes north of Zagreb are more than a little frustrated. Local resident and Zagreb University journalist student Karla Lemaic gives them a voice.  

I am still young at 51, but I swear I cannot remember a time like this in my short life. The world is INSANE at the moment, and nowhere more so than Croatia. 

On top of the coronavirus which is dominating life all over the globe, lite in Croatia now is simply nuts. Just this week alone, in addition to the corona, we had large fires, snow in Spring after none in Winter, and ...

Earthquakes. 

Lots of earthquakes. 

The first rocked the Croatian capital on Sunday at 06:24. I was quite proud that TCN managed to have the first story in English live on Google News just 15 minutes later at 06:39, with me writing in bed on the island of Hvar, some 400 km south of the seismic shocks. 

In fact, as the TCN team responded to the earthquakes, I was really proud of the TCN coverage. There were only three of us actively writing, all confined more or less to our homes in Split, Zagreb and Jelsa (if you have ever wondered what it is like running a news portal in a foreign language when you are not allowed to travel and are surrounded by corona and earthquakes, it is something like this). 

But then, a voice of conscience informing me that we had missed one very important part of the story. 

"Is it ok if I write something about the epicentre of the earthquake? The people there are suffering and have been totally ignored." An incoming message from TCN intern Janja Sestak, who turned my agreement to her suggestion into this

Not content to leave the story there, Janja then told me about a colleague of hers at the university called Karla Lemaic, who had done a great video about the earthquake, its aftermath, and the lack of support despite the visits of the Prime Minister and Mayor of Zagreb. 

If Janja translated the video and did all the subtitles, was there a chance to publish the video on TCN?

Yes, indeed! Great work to both of you. I have yet to meet Karla, but look forward to buying her and Janja a very large drink when this madness is over. Check out the video below. 

For the latest coverage of the Zagreb earthquakes, follow the dedicated TCN section

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Dukat: Donations to Zagreb Citizens Affected by Coronavirus and Earthquake

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of March, 2020, in addition to its regular donations to charities across the country, Zagreb's Dukat, the largest food donor in the Republic of Croatia, is also introducing an extraordinary donation worth a massive 225,000 kuna for Zagreb citizens affected by the earthquake and by the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Dukat, a large and well respected Croatian company has responded to the emerging needs for donations owing to the coronavirus epidemic and the earthquake that hit Zagreb and the surrounding area this week in a praiseworthy manner that many other companies across the country would do well to follow. 

The company will introduce extraordinary product donations to Caritas Croatia. In addition to its regular donations, which it has been organising and seeing through since back in 2015, Dukat will make an extraordinary donation of 30,000 litres of milk over three consecutive months, totalling, as previously stated, 225,000 kuna.

Donations will be distributed to citizens who are the highest risk during the coronavirus epidemic, but also to citizens who have suffered material damage in the recent Zagreb earthquakes which rocked the capital.

Despite the difficult circumstances and the significantly increased workload, Dukat's logistics is continuing to successfully transport its donated goods to all parts of the country on a very regular basis.

Dukat's role as a leader in food donation in Croatia has been confirmed for two years in a row with it having won the "Donor" award. Dukat earned its last recognition as the largest single food donor in Croatia back in 2018, when it donated 192 tonnes of dairy products, equal to a quarter of all donated food in the Republic of Croatia.

The award was given to Dukat in April 2019 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Make sure to follow our dedicated section for rolling information and updates in English on coronavirus in Croatia.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

How Communities Around Croatia are Helping COVID-19, Earthquake Response

March 24, 2020 - Communities around Croatia are coming together to do their bit in the response to coronavirus and the Zagreb earthquake aftermath.  

In spite of the latest circumstances which have shattered Croatia, Croatian people have once again shown how kindness is greater than the effects of Coronavirus and the Zagreb earthquake.

While we waited for the closure of catering facilities, the owner of the "Kraljevski pub Tomislav" cafe bar in Varaždin decided to do that by himself. Not only that, but employees chose to volunteer and help those in need.

"Maybe this month, we will not make money, but we will make lots of love from other people who appreciate our hard work and dedication and, above all, our free time that we spend for someone," they told eVaraždin.

Jelena, Davor and Katarina, well done!  (see lead photo)

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The Knight order "Ružice grada" from Orahovica announced on its Facebook page they are starting to make a cotton face masks. "If you know of an institution that may need it or people who are at risk, please let us know so we can donate." After that, they wrote they stand at your service if you need someone to clear the snow in front of your house. Not only that, but they will also bring you groceries if you can't do it by yourself. This is the real knight chivalry.

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In the Facebook group "Tražim/nudim studentski posao" ("Looking for/offering a student job"), many people are offering a home to those whose houses were destroyed in the earthquake. In the same group, plenty of the students provided instructions for every child who needs it due to the school closures. And they will do it for free. After that, the new group called Free Instructions, was made.

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Students organized and launched an action to create protective masks for medical staff. The masks are already in use at KBC Split. More than 120 3D printers launched in 24 cities in less than 18 hours! DiyConnect Company is doing the same thing. 

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Following the decision to suspend public transport, the HUP member companies, the Rent-a-Car Coordination Company, informed that they make available, for free, more than 50 vehicles throughout Croatia for free, so that healthcare staff can get on time to their jobs. Adipromet is doing the same thing, knowing how important the work is that our medical staff is currently doing.

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Three young psychologists are offering free online help since they understand that some people are going through tough times at the moment. They have Facebook and Instagram profiles. If you need to talk with someone, they are here for you.

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A free Web application for order fulfillment and delivery has also been created to assist people in self-isolation, the elderly, and infirm. Scan the code and help others! How does it work?

  1. Sign up 2. Wait for a call to help someone.

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If you thought it couldn't go better than this, there is more. A few owners of apartments forgave rents to those who live in it for this month. 

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Bad Blue Boys, the Dinamo fan group, again showed their preparedness to help. "I do not know how much news about the Blue Heart action has spread. Still, in cooperation with the Red Crioss, we take care of people who are unable to go to pharmacies, shops, etc.. This is also true for senior citizens and chronic patients who would be put into unnecessary danger when leaving home." 

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In the Facebook group "Jedni za druge" (One for the other), made specifically for those in need due to the earthquake and coronavirus, many people offer their help.

Mrs. Manuela Babić, the owner of OPG, wrote: "Every Friday until further notice I can provide 200 to 250 eggs on my farm and donate to the needy. If you know anyone, whether from the Red Cross or someone who volunteers and delivers food to people, please refer them to me."

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And again, some offer a home… 

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We believe there are many more volunteers who are doing good from the shadow. Shout out to all of you, good people. Wherever do you take a look, someone stands there, offering a hand. What a time to witness.

Do you know an initiative to add to this list? Email Janja with details at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Croatia National Team Raises 4.2 Million Kuna for Zagreb Earthquake, Coronavirus

March 24, 2020 - The Croatia national football team has raised HRK 4.2 million which will be donated to the Croatian government fund opened today for two purposes - the fight against the coronavirus and to help rehabilitate Zagreb after the earthquake.

HNS announces that the state of emergency, caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the devastating earthquake in Zagreb, has spawned many well-known and unknown heroes across the country, who show exceptional effort, courage and organization every day to cope with this crisis successfully.

Therefore, in addition to a series of personal initiatives and donations, the players and the staff of the Croatia national football team decided to raise funds for the fight against the coronavirus and to support the City of Zagreb and raised HRK 4.2 million!

The funds will be paid into two separate accounts opened today by the Croatian Government: "Croatia against Coronavirus" and "Together for Zagreb". The funds will be used to rehabilitate hospitals and purchase the necessary appliances, medicines and other medical supplies to combat the pandemic.

"With this action, we want to show that we are committed to supporting our people and our capital, and that together, as always, we will overcome these great challenges. We stand with all our heart with the people who have shown great courage, ability and strength in this crisis, from doctors and nurses to firefighters, police officers, soldiers and members of the Civil Protection Headquarters to the people who work daily for us to live relatively normally, such as merchants, delivery drivers and many others. We will win together again,” said the Croatia national team and staff in a joint statement.

“In less than two days, the Vatreni have collected more than half a million euros for epidemic and earthquake relief. When we call our team and our fans a #Family, this is exactly the kind of unity and solidarity that we're referring to!”

The Croatia national team has shown many times both through public actions and also through their private initiatives far from the public eye that they have a big heart and a great sense of social responsibility. Through the Vatreno Srco Foundation, they have been raising funds for needy children and young people for years, but this amount has surpassed all previous actions.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Croatian Government Opens Donation Fund for Zagreb Earthquake, Coronavirus Patients

March 24, 2020 - The Croatian government has opened a donation fund to help those affected by the Zagreb earthquake and the coronavirus. The campaigns are titled “Together for Zagreb" and "Croatia against coronavirus”. 

Index.hr reports that the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that Zagreb and its citizens were hit by the strongest earthquake in the last 140 years, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale.

In order to enable the payment of donated funds through the state budget account for the purpose of earthquake rehabilitation, the decision to open a donation account in the "Together for Zagreb" action shall determine the account numbers to which the donations will be paid.

To donate to “Together with Zagreb”

Donations within Croatia are paid to the account: HR1210010051863000160, with reference to the approval number: HR68 5371 - and their OIB number. 

Donations from outside Croatia will go into the account of the Ministry of Finance with the Croatian National Bank, to the account number IBAN: HR12 1001 0051 8630 0016 0

“To donate to "Croatia against coronavirus”.

Donations within Croatia are paid into the account HR1210010051863000160, with reference to the approval number: HR68 5380 - and their OIB.

Donations from outside Croatia are paid into the account of the Ministry of Finance with the Croatian National Bank, to the account number: IBAN: HR12 1001 0051 8630 0016 0

In the Government press conference, Plenkovic said:

"The pandemic is changing the world. Functioning as we know it is changing. In just three months, the pandemic has arrived in 195 countries ... The number of cases is accelerating. We predict that the pandemic will take many lives ...

The scale will have unprecedented economic consequences for the whole world... We were convinced that the biggest crisis with us had passed. We had a crisis around Agrokor. Thanks to our measures, we have prevented the costs that had to go to the budget. Today, three years later, this is happening.

What we presented last week was the first crisis plan.

Our economy is slightly stronger than it was before this crisis.

We have reached the highest number since independence, returning our economy to a higher level since before 2008.

There is now a battle to maintain production and preserve jobs. We are aware of the situation in which our businessmen are in, all of them are in the sales channels, all of whom, through their hard work, contribute to our society functioning in increasingly difficult circumstances.

It is certain that this crisis will last longer than a few months and will affect all our activism.

We are witnessing asymmetrical shock.

We will go to cut all costs that are not necessary on the expenditure side. All of these measures have been prepared in a unique and holistic way, designed as a conceptual approach for this first initial phase.

We had a government phone call on the day we opened the accounts: one for Zagreb and the other for combating the coronavirus, so anyone can donate.

We will donate our salary for March to the Zagreb account."

Follow TCN's live updates on the coronavirus crisis and the Zagreb earthquake.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Bad Blue Boys Embark on New Campaign: Zagreb Needs Us All

March 24, 2020 - The images of women from the Petrova maternity ward walking around in the cold with newborns in hand after the earthquake struck Zagreb on Sunday will stay with us forever. Among the first to come to their aid was Dinamo Zagreb fan group Bad Blue Boys. 

Often condemned for excessive flares in the stands and highways brawls, Croatian football fan groups are usually characterized as unruly and dangerous. But when it comes to helping those in need, they’ll be the first on the front line, writes Vecernji List.

The Bad Blue Boys, for example, have shown over the past two days that their ideals, courage and heart should be appreciated, as they first helped move newborns at Petrova, then continued to assist the Dubrava hospital by moving it to Jordanovac at night. During the day, many of them cleaned Zagreb from the rubble caused by the earthquake. But that's not all.

“A few days ago, together with the Red Cross City Society, we launched the Blue Heart Action to help elderly, infirm, and chronically ill fellow citizens, bring them food and medicine so that they do not have to be exposed to the coronavirus. And many of us have put ourselves at the disposal of Civil Protection,” the Bad Blue Boys said, explaining how they act so quickly:

“We have a group message, and as soon as something happens, we move to help. Around 500 people arrived in front of the Jordanovac in half an hour, but 100 of us left as they no longer needed us.”

The Bad Blue Boys also invited all their members to donate blood on Tuesday from 8 am to 7 pm at Petrova 3 to maintain constant medical care for our fellow citizens in these crisis days, reports Gol.hr.

"Join us, Zagreb needs us all," the Boys said.

Due to the cancellation of several large field donation campaigns and low blood supplies, the Croatian Institute for Transfusion Medicine calls on everyone to donate blood.

It is recommended that you come in smaller groups and follow the instructions on social distancing, avoid direct physical contact, and wear a face mask.

It is Croatian football fan groups who, in the most difficult moments, re-prove their loyalty to the state and help those who need it most. The Bad Blue Boys, as well as other fans groups like Torcida, Armada, and Kohorta, were the first to defend the country from aggression in 1991, the first to start building flood protection fences, the first to help put out fires in Dalmatia, and are now moving hospitals and clearing rubble. 

“Whether we like it or not, we are not doing it for others but for our ideals, we will continue to defend the colors of the city and our club in our own way, however unclear it may be to many, and we will be the first to help in any crisis,  again, however uncertain it may be to some,” said one Bad Blue Boys member to Vecernji List. 

Stay up to date on the coronavirus crisis in Croatia by following our dedicated page.

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