Croatia: Red Cross shelters hundreds of homeless after 5.4 magnitude earthquake

Zagreb/Budapest22 March 2020 – More than 100 Croatian Red Cross volunteers are providing urgent assistance and shelter for people on the streets of Zagreb, after a powerful earthquake of 5.4 magnitude struck the Croatian capital early this morning.

The quake, at 6:24am, was the strongest in Croatia in more than 140 years. Many buildings are badly damaged and at least one, in Adzijina Street, collapsed trapping several people. There are power cuts in some parts of the city.

Immediately after the earthquake, Croatian Red Cross teams distributed water and blankets for patients and newborns who were displaced from a central city maternity hospital.

Red Cross volunteers have set up six tents around hospitals in Zagreb and a tent city at French Republic Square, which can accommodate up to 500 people.

The tents will also shelter people who do not want to return home, as aftershocks continue to rock the city. People are being provided with food, water, tea and blankets. The Croatian Red Cross headquarters sustained minor damage.

The Executive President of Croatian Red Cross, Robert Markt, said all measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are being observed in the tent city.

“The situation is very challenging because we are dealing with both an earthquake and the COVID-19 outbreak,” Mr Markt said. “We are aware that people are scared and that is why Red Cross teams will patrol the streets of the city to help as many people as possible and provide psychosocial support.

“Of course, we also need to remind citizens of the importance of protecting against the spread of COVID-19. For now, we have the situation under control.”

An additional 100 Red Cross volunteers are visiting the elderly and those in self-isolation for COVID-19, bringing the total number of volunteers to 200. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 126 cases of COVID-19 in Croatia, with one death.

Mr Markt said the Red Cross is ready for further action when Croatia’s Civil Protection Authority determines what is needed.

Photos are available here

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