ZAGREB, Croatia: A large earthquake struck north of the Croatian capital Zagreb on Sunday (Mar 22), GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences said, damaging buildings, sending many people into the streets, burying vehicles in rubble and causing several fires.
The Institute for Urgent Medicine, an emergency hospital, said one child had been admitted with head injuries from a falling roof and the Zagreb Fire Department said the firefighting and rescue operations were ongoing at several locations.
GFZ said the quake of magnitude 5.3 struck at a depth of 10km. It downgraded the magnitude of the quake, which could be also felt across the Western Balkans, from an initial reading of 6.0.
"It lasted over 10 seconds. By far the strongest I have ever felt," one witness said, adding that it was followed by several aftershocks.
Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic appealed via his Twitter account to people in the streets to keep social distance from each other as the country struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus. So far, Croatia has reported 206 cases of the virus and one death.
A Reuters reporter on the scene saw a church bell tower damaged, some buildings fell down as people fled apartments and took to the streets and some parts of Zagreb experienced power cuts.
Ines Ivancic, a seismologist at the government institute for seismology in Croatia, said the tremor was strong but the immediate damage could not be assessed. She added that the internet was down in some areas.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured 5.4, while the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also reported 5.3 magnitude, followed by another 5.1 magnitude earthquake.