An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck central Croatia on Tuesday, killing at least five people, including a child, and injuring at least 20.
Rescuers pulled people from the rubble of collapsed buildings in the town of Petrinja and army troops were sent to the area to help.
Tremors were also felt in Croatia’s capital Zagreb and as far away as Austria’s capital Vienna, as well as Italy. Slovenia shut its only nuclear power plant as a precaution.
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It was the second quake to strike the area in two days.
The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said it hit at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), with the epicentre in Petrinja, 50 km south of Zagreb.
The mayor of the nearby town of Glina said four people had been killed there, Croatian state TV reported. In Petrinja, a 12-year-old child was killed, N1 news channel quoted a town official as saying.
“My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children,” Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by HRT. “This is like Hiroshima – half of the city no longer exists.”
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Marica Pavlovic, a resident, said the quake felt “worse than a war.”
“It was horrible, a shock, you don’t know what to do, whether to run out or hide somewhere,” she said.
Tomislav Fabijanic, head of emergency medical services in Sisak, said many people had been injured in Petrinja and in Sisak.
“There are fractures, there are concussions and some had to be operated on,” he said.
Prime Minister Adrej Plenkovic, who rushed to Petrinja, said: “We have information that one girl was killed.
“The army is here to help. We will have to move some people from Petrinja because it is unsafe to be here,” he said.
The head of the hospital in Sisak said later it was treating 20 people, two with severe injuries.
It is a bitter blow for the town’s people, who faced a significant rebuilding operation after Croatia’s war of independence in the 1990s. More recently, they have been tackling economic devastation, with the decline of traditional industries.
Croatia’s leaders have promised funds for reconstruction. But Petrinja’s residents will be seeing in the new year in temporary accommodation – with little prospect of an early return home.