ZAGREB – Three minor earthquakes rattled the nerves of inhabitants of central Croatia on Wednesday, a day after the region was struck by a magnitude-6.2 temblor that left seven people dead and 26 others injured.
The strongest of the aftershocks was a magnitude-4.8.
In Petrinja, the town nearest the epicenter of Tuesday’s quake, rescue and recovery teams were clearing debris and identifying buildings at risk of collapse.
Several survivors were pulled from destroyed buildings on Tuesday and the process of removing the remains of leveled homes is slow, given the possibility that people may be trapped beneath the rubble.
And many residents of the affected communities, including some whose homes were badly damaged, chose to remain, preferring to spend the night amid the ruins or even outdoors rather than walk away from their property and possessions.
The elderly and farmers with livestock are the most reluctant to leave.
“I had to abandon my house during the war (of Yugoslav Succession) in 1991. When I returned, in 1995, I said that I would never leave again, whatever happened. And I’m not leaving,” a Petrinja woman in her 70s told HRT television.
Authorities urged residents of homes that were badly damaged and have yet to be deemed safe to go to shelters or seek lodging with family or friends.
But, as a Red Cross volunteer told HRT, “people can’t leave their cattle, they have to take care of them. They spent the night under the sky in front of fires.”
Most residents of the village of Majske Poljane, which accounts for five of the seven earthquake fatalities, also chose to remain, sleeping outside or in their cars.
People across Croatia have joined in efforts to aid those affected by the temblor and N1 television aired images of long lines outside blood donation centers in Zagreb, where two senior European Union officials arrived on Wednesday.
“I arrived to Croatia today to assure the Croatian people that the EU stands in full solidarity with them. Our Emergency Response Coordination Center will continue to mobilize immediate assistance,” the European commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, said in a statement.
Lenarcic and European Commission Vice President Dubravka Suica met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic before traveling to Petrinja with Deputy Prime Minister Davor Bozinovic.
Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey responded to Croatia’s request for help with immediate assistance including housing containers, winter-ready tents and electrical heaters, among other items.
“My thoughts are with all those affected, especially those who have lost loved ones, and with the brave first responders on the scene who are doing their best to help people in need,” Lenarcic said.