Earthquake strikes central Croatia, killing five and damaging buildings

By Antonio Bronic

SISAK, Croatia (Reuters) -An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck central Croatia on Tuesday, killing five people and injuring at least 20, and shook several neighboring countries, officials and residents said.

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. Slovenia shut its only nuclear power plant as a precaution.

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 epicenter 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.

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,” Plenkovic said.

The head of the hospital in Sisak said later it was treating 20 people, two with severe injuries.

N1 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 Petrinja’s streets in the aftermath of the quake, and cars parked in the road were also smashed by falling debris.

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

Croatia international soccer player Dejan Lovren made his hotel in the Adriatic town of Novalja available for the 16 most affected families from Petrinja, he said on Instagram.


The quake was also 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.

In Austria’s second city Graz, about 200 km (130 miles) north of Petrinja, tall buildings wobbled for about two minutes, according to broadcaster ORF. In Carinthia province, about 300 km to the northwest of Petriinja, the earth trembled for several minutes and people described how their furniture, Christmas trees and lamps wobbled.

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

Croatia’s state news agency Hina said in total the quake was felt in 12 countries.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said Croatia was expecting help from the European Union as it had activated its 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.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Igor Ilic in Zagreb and Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade, Writing by Angus MacSwanEditing)

Patriot games: Slovenian paramilitaries face down migrant ‘threat’ on border

Patriot games: Slovenian paramilitaries face down migrant ‘threat’ on border
KOSTEL OB KOLPI, Slovenia (Reuters) – Dressed in camouflage and armed with air rifles, Slovenian paramilitaries moves in formation through woods a stone’s throw from Croatia, patrolling a border zone where the group’s leader says illegal migration is rife.

The more than 50-strong group, some of whom mask their faces with balaclavas and which includes a handful of women, is led by Andrej Sisko, who also heads Gibanje Zedinjena Slovenija, a fringe nationalist party that has so far failed to win seats in parliament.

He believes authorities are failing in their duty to protect Slovenia against what he views as the migrant threat, and founded Stajerska and Krajnska Varda (Stajerska and Krajnska Guard) to fill that gap.

Members of both organistions were participating in the patrol when Reuters TV met them.

“It is a duty of all of us to ensure security in our own country,” he said. “If state bodies who are paid for that cannot or do not want to ensure security we can help ensure it, that is what we do.”

Anti-migrant sentiment in Slovenia and other ex-Communist states has risen sharply since 2015, when eastern Europe bore the initial brunt of a refugee crisis.

Much of the region has since then resisted attempts by EU authorities in Brussels to enforce a continent-wide quota system for new arrivals, which Slovenia has however signed up for.

According to Slovenian police, numbers of migrants crossing illegally from Croatia to Slovenia – where a razor-wire fence has been erected along stretches of the border since 2015 – rose to 11,786 in the first nine months of this year from 6,911 a year earlier.

Sisko this year served time in jail for forming Stajerska Varda and urging the overthrow of state institutions.

He says the group, which generally meets in the border zone at weekends, does not intercept migrants – which he emphasises would be against the law – but advertises their presence to security forces.

Police told Reuters they were monitoring the group’s behaviour and had not detected any recent illegal activities.

(Reporting by Boris Kavic and Marja Novak; editing by John Stonestreet)

Thousands of Refugees Stranded across Balkans

Thousands of refugees, including children and babies, were left stranded at borders in the Balkans as Croatia and Slovenia and other countries began tightening border control and limiting the number of refugees allowed in their countries.

According to CNN, approximately 10,000 refugees were left stranded in Serbia due to Hungary closing down two of its borders – including its border with Serbia. Many of the refugees have been bottlenecked on Serbia’s western border where they are trying to enter Croatia, then travel to Slovenia. Slovenia recently announced they would only accept 2,500 refugees a day, but their neighbor, Croatia, is letting more than 5,000 travel through to Slovenia, despite Slovenia’s limitations. Slovenia borders Croatia, Austria, Hungary, and Italy.

“Croatia is ignoring our pleas, our plans,” Bostjan Sefic, state secretary at Slovenia’s interior ministry, told a news conference, saying the army would be called in to help if such a rate continued.

Croatia is also considering tighter restrictions after more than 200,000 refugees crossed their border over the past month. Government officials are considering raising a barrier or fence across the border.

“I would like to avoid the situation where we have to put any kind of physical barrier on the border, but I have always requested from our government a tight control of the border… I don’t know about the fence, I don’t exclude it as a possibility in the future,” said Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

U.N. refugee agencies have reported another concern: they are running out of supplies. As colder weather approaches, doctors are worried that they will not have the supplies to treat children and weaker adults who suffer from hypothermia. Aid agencies and charities continue to donate to the cause, but have been struggling to keep up with the large number of refugees fleeing war in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

“We don’t have a chance to treat, we don’t have the actual medicine to be given out to them, we don’t have any more rain coats,” Dr. Ramiz Momeni, London-based founder of the Humanitas Charity, told Sky News.

“There is a lack of food, lack of blankets, we are missing everything,” UN Refugee Agency spokeswoman Melita Sunjic also told the media outlet.

Since the crisis began, more than 615,000 refugees have arrived in Europe via sea so far this year. In 2014 there were 626,000 asylum applications according to Eurostat figures. Germany alone is expected to see up to 800,000 asylum seekers and refugees this year.