Belgrade/Zagreb, Dec 29 (efe-epa).- At least six people died, including a 12-year-old girl, around midday on Tuesday in the powerful earthquake that struck central Croatia, and rescue operations are continuing to find and remove people – and possibly more bodies – from the rubble of homes and buildings, local authorities reported.
Many of the buildings in the city of Petrinja, the epicenter of the 6.2-magnitude quake, as well as assorted structures in the general area, were damaged or collapsed when the temblor struck.
“With sadness, we report the deaths: a girl in Petrinja and five males in Majske Poljane,” the Croatian Interior Ministry said on its official Twitter account.
“Four victims are from these houses,” said Branka Mitic, the deputy mayor of the city of Glina, located near Petrinja, as regional N1 television showed images of two houses in the village of Majske Poljane, on the outskirts of the urban area.
Earlier, local media reported that a 12-year-old girl had died in Petrinja.
“They are still removing people from the ruins in Majske Poljane. There is lots of debris (and) it’s possible that there will be more victims,” said Mitic as night was falling and the village of some 200 residents remained without electric power or potable water in the wake of the quake.
The deputy mayor asked for help for the local residents, saying that they cannot spend the night in the devastated town.
“We’re asking for urgent help. We need everything: containers for lodging, blankets, food, medicine, doctors, everything,” she said.
More than 20 people were injured in Petrinja, two of them seriously.
The quake hit at 12:20 pm on Tuesday after an earlier 5.0-megnitude temblor on Monday caused panic among the public in the same area.
The Tuesday quake was felt all over Croatia and in several other central European countries.
Darinko Dumbovic, the mayor of Petrinja, a town in central Croatia near the epicenter, described the situation in an interview with Radio Croatia as “chaos.”
“Petrinja is in ruins. There have been deaths, injuries, people are missing. There is not a single house that has not been damaged,” he said, adding that a young girl was among the fatalities.
Shortly before, he told media outlet 24sata that “the emergency services had begun to rescue people from the rubble” and that soldiers had been deployed to the area to help with recovery efforts.
Kresimir Kuk, from the country’s seismology institute, warned that the large earthquake could be followed by aftershocks and advised the public to stay away from buildings in poor condition.
“We cannot rule out anything, including, in theory, another earthquake (of a similar magnitude) but we can say there is more chance of smaller magnitude aftershocks,” he told N1 TV.
Footage broadcast by N1 showed extensive damage to buildings and collapsed roofs in Petrinja, as well as rescue teams comprising firefighters and volunteers working at the scene.
There were also reports of injuries in the capital Zagreb.
Some Zagreb residents, many of whom have been left without electricity, have sought refuge in the streets and parks of the city, which was hit by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in March.
Others have left the capital altogether.