The authorities have warned people to stay calm and maintain social distancing despite being on the streets.
Many countries across the world are lockdown in order to control the coronavirus pandemic. However, the conditions have worsened in Croatia after people were forced to flee their homes to save themselves from an earthquake.
According to The Guardian, an earthquake measuring 5.3-magnitude shook the capital city of Croatia, Zagreb on Sunday, 22 March 2020 around 6 AM local time. GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences stated that the quake was felt at a depth of six miles and showed an initial reading of 6.0 before dowgrading to a 5.3 on the Richter scale, according to Al Jazeera. It is the biggest earthquake that has hit the capital city in the last 140 years.
There was an earthquake here in Croatia a few moments ago. pic.twitter.com/X5iTO7gcjX— vjerana (@vers____) March 22, 2020
It resulted in widespread damage across the city, destroying the capital's cathedral and several buildings. People rushed to the streets covered with debris and rubble. The city also reported incidents of fires and power cuts. "It lasted over 10 seconds. By far the strongest I have ever felt," said a witness, according to Al Jazeera.
Strong earthquake shake Croatia and its capital, causing widespread damage and panic. No casualties were initially reported. The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake measured 5.3 and struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb. https://t.co/2b4hvjqSOb— The Associated Press (@AP) March 22, 2020
Hospitals were forced to evacuate and the people were forced into the streets to save their lives. Footage of the event showed helpless mothers wearing nightgowns in parking lots holding on to their newborns in freezing temperatures after they were moved out of the hospital's damaged maternity ward. Al Jazeera reported that the army would help these mothers, babies, and incubators move into a safe place.
In the middle of #COVID19 pandemic taking off in Croatia, our mostly old hospitals are some of the worst hit building in this morning’s 5.3 magnitude earthquake. One casualty reported so far, a 15-year old child. pic.twitter.com/8f6LqygJaO— Filip Radelic (@fichek) March 22, 2020
Meanwhile, 16 people were injured and a 15-year-old in critical condition. Further details on the teenager's health are not available. With many on the streets, the situation has become complex.
According to WHO, the country has 206 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the government had urged people to stay in isolation to stop the spread of the virus. The public was also requested to avoid parks and squares. The city's transport networks were also closed to fight the virus spread.
A destructive 5.4 magnitude #earthquake hit Zagreb, Croatia this morning - the strongest in 140 years!💔 It breaks my heart to see the hospitals evacuated like this during #coronavirus with patients and mothers with their newborn babies out in the cold 😩 pic.twitter.com/YC6rikESHs— Angjelina👼🏻 (@angjelinaahmeti) March 22, 2020
However, the destruction of homes in the city has left people with no option but to gather around in the streets, increasing the risk of the virus spread. According to Al Jazeera, Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic took to Twitter to insist on the importance of social distancing. He asked them to comply with the safety measure.
“Earthquakes are dangerous but coronavirus is even more so,” said Bozinovic, according to The Guardian. "There are rules for when there is an earthquake, but when there is an earthquake at the same time when there is a global pandemic, then it's a much more complex situation," said Bozinovic, according to Al Jazeera.
The prime minister, Plenkovic encouraged the people to remain calm. He stated, "We have two parallel crises that contradict each other," according to Al Jazeera. "We will try to clear the streets as soon as possible. Stay outside your homes and keep distance," he continued. The authorities have sent soldiers to clear the damage and restore the city. Meanwhile, citizens complained of the city's old building and its poor state.
With the increasing cases of coronavirus in most countries, across the world, such a situation is even scarier. According to WHO's European website, the total number of deaths in Europe is 7,426 of which Italy has reported 4,032 deaths. According to WHO, 294,110 people have been infected by the virus worldwide and more than 12,944 has lost their lives.
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