Heavy 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocks Croatia amid holiday celebrations

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck a town in central Croatia on Tuesday, killing a child, injuring many people and wrecking houses, officials said.

Rescuers tried to pull people from the rubble of collapsed buildings, television footage showed, and army troops were sent into the area to help.

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said the quake hit at a depth of 10 km (6 miles). The epicentre was in the town of Petrinja, 50 km south of the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Tomislav Fabijanic, head of emergency medical services in nearby 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. We have no other information on casualties.”

“The army is here to help. We will have to move some people from Petrinja because it is unsafe to be here,” Plenkovic said.

N1 news channel quoted a Petrinja town official as saying that a 12-year old child had been killed, but gave no details.

It showed footage of rescuers in Petrinja pulling a man and a child from the debris. Both were alive.

Other footage showed a house with its roof caved in. The reporter said she did not know if anyone was inside.

N1 also said a kindergarten was destroyed in the quake but there had been no children in it. The situation was “difficult” in retirement homes in the Petrinja area, it added.

Piles of stone, bricks and tiles littered the streets in the aftermath of the quake, and cars parked in the road were also damaged by falling debris. Patients were evacuated from the Sisak hopital because buildings were damaged.

A worker who had been fixing a roof in a village outside Petrinja told N1 that the quake threw him on the ground. Nine of the 10 houses in the village were destroyed, he said.

The quake was felt in Zagreb, where people rushed onto the streets, some of which were strewn with broken roof tiles and other debris. Patients and medical staff were evacuated from Zagreb’s Sveti Duh Hospital, many left sitting in chairs in the street wrapped in blankets.

It also shook parts of neighbouring Bosnia and Serbia.

In Slovenia, the STA news agency said the country’s sole nuclear power plant, which is 100 km (60 miles) from the epicentre, was shut down as a precaution.

Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant said in a statement it had not shut down production although the earthquake had been felt there.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said Croatia was expecting help from the European Union as it had activated the bloc’s emergency situation mechanism.

On Monday a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit central Croatia, also near Petrinja. In March, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb causing one death and injuring 27 people.