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6.4 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Croatia, Killing 5

Croatian soldiers walk next to damaged buildings in Petrinja, some 30 miles from the capital, Zagreb, after the town was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.
Croatian soldiers walk next to damaged buildings in Petrinja, some 30 miles from the capital, Zagreb, after the town was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.

A powerful earthquake sent shockwaves through Croatia on Tuesday, causing major damage to a town southwest of the country's capital, Zagreb, and killing five.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.4, struck at about 6:20 a.m. ET., according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center. The initial tremor was followed by a series of weaker aftershocks.

"This is the largest earthquake to occur in Croatia since the advent of modern seismic instrumentation," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A slightly smaller earthquake shook Zagreb in 1880.

Tuesday's tremors hit Petrinja the hardest. The central Croatian town has a population of around 24,000.

Buildings collapsed. Debris filled the streets. A woman was trapped under rubble, according to government-owned news website HINA.

Croatian soldiers clean rubble next to damaged buildings in Petrinja, a town of about 24,000 residents.
Denis Lovrovic / AFP via Getty Images
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Croatian soldiers clean rubble next to damaged buildings in Petrinja, a town of about 24,000 residents.

A 12-year-old girl was killed in Petrinjaand another four people in villages near the town, the Associated Press reported. Officials said at least 20 people were hospitalized, two who have serious injuries.

"My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children," Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbović said, according to AP. "This is like Hiroshima — half of the city no longer exists."

Dumbović said town residents were pulling people out of cars and did not know of further deaths or injuries. A kindergarten collapsed but there were no children inside, he said.

Buildings in Zagreb also reportedly collapsed. No deaths in the city were immediately reported. A nuclear power plant in neighboring Slovenia was automatically shut down due to the earthquake.

Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said he was on his way to the area and had mobilized recovery efforts. European Council President Charles Michel said the EU "offers its full support and assistance to the people of Croatia."

Tuesday's earthquake comes only a day after the country saw a 5.0 earthquake.

There have been three magnitude six earthquakes within 200 kilometers of the area since 1900, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.