A 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Croatia on Tuesday, killing seven people and seriously injuring at least 26. The tremors of the earthquake, whose epicentre was in Petrinja, 50 kilometres south of the capital Zagreb, could be felt as far away as Budapest and Vienna.
“My town has been completely destroyed,” Petrinja mayor Darinko Dumbovic said in a statement broadcast by the Croatian national broadcaster HRT.
“This is like Hiroshima — half of the city no longer exists.”
Some residents of Petrinja, a town of 25,000 that became known for being the location of a major battle during the wars that erupted in the 1990s after the collapse of Yugoslavia, told HRT the earthquake damage was worse than during the war.
A number of officials including Croatian premier Andrej Plenkovic and president Zoran Milanovic travelled to Petrinja to see the damage.
“This has been a difficult year and this [earthquake] adds insult to injury,” Mr Milanovic said.
Local officials said a 12-year-old girl died in the town, while the other fatalities were from nearby villages. The government said it would evacuate the hospital of the nearby city of Sisak, the region’s largest health facility, which was so badly damaged that most of its wings could no longer function properly.
Austria’s national broadcaster said that the earthquake had been felt in 12 countries. Neighbouring Slovenia shut down its only nuclear power plant, 60 miles from the epicentre, as a precaution.
Interior minister Davor Bozinovic said Croatia was seeking and expecting EU assistance through the 27-member bloc’s emergency civil protection mechanism.
The earthquake, the second in Croatia in two days, struck while memories of tremors in March that heavily damaged Zagreb and displaced hundreds of people, remain fresh.