Description of the disaster
A 5.4 magnitude earthquake, at a depth of 10 km occurred in Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje county on 22 March 2020 at 6:24 a.m. local time about 10 km north of downtown. A second strike followed at 7:01 a.m. with a 5.0 magnitude and several aftershocks followed during that and following days.
Despite the cold weather, many citizens left their apartments and houses and rushed out to the streets in fear of the earthquake`s effects, but still keeping physical distance among each other in view of the measures related to COVID19.
One child died, and 26 people were reported injured from which 18 severely. Extensive material damage was reported in the Zagreb city centre in parts where buildings were constructed before 1965, when construction standards were changed based on the experience of the Skopje earthquake. In addition, there is high number of houses at the outskirts of Zagreb city, closer to the epicentre still waiting to be assessed.
According the Ministry of Construction, the first screening of the damaged buildings reviewed a total of 6,305 building by 1 April and out of that 2,516 have been declared uninhabitable at the moment.
The objective of the first screening has been just determination if the buildings can be used or should be moved out at the moment and it is different from review of damages cause by earthquake.
Meanwhile, authorities have received around 26,000 applications for damages, among which some 9,647 for family houses according to City of Zagreb Headquarters for Crisis Coordination.
Up to date there are at least some 2,516 buildings in Zagreb estimated as partially or completely damaged and uninhabitable. In Krapina-Zagorje county, 80 houses/buildings are declared completely uninhabitable and around 200 applications for damages have been received.
There is no financial estimation on the damages as the first screening conducted by construction engineers is still ongoing and the assessment of the damages will start after that. Financial value of the damages is going to be high as the whole old historic Centre of Zagreb is devastated and it is anticipated that reconstruction will last for years. A number of old churches are damaged including the old Zagreb cathedral, the buildings of Croatian Government and Parliament, four hospitals, the University of Zagreb, some 40 schools and kindergartens, as well as a number of other old historic buildings that are in public use.
The Croatian Red Cross headquarters also sustained minor damage.
The exact number of total people affected is still unknown due to ongoing first screening of damaged buildings in order to establish if they can be lived in. Current estimation of CRC is that around 50,000 people have been affected by the earthquake. A total of 475 people found temporary accommodation in student dormitories in Zagreb, but the number is increasing on a daily basis and it will continue to rise as long as the first screening of damaged building is finished.
The most of affected people are residing with their relatives or find alternative housing by themselves. Also, the majority of affected people from Krapina-Zagorje county – towns Donja Stubica and Gornja Stubica, found accommodation with their relatives and only 11 families are placed in Jezerčica bungalows nearby their home as they do not have other options. Accurate estimation on displaced people will be difficult to make for some time as many left Zagreb after the earthquake and are residing with their relatives in other parts of the country. Hereby stated data on damaged building are data confirmed by 1 April by the Ministry of Construction as well as City of Zagreb and KrapinaZagorje county but are not final data as the first screening is still going on and the assessment of damages has not yet started even so the 10 days after earthquake passed.
According to the rapid assessment of the CRC PSS team, people who are moved to the Zagreb student dorm and Jezrčica bungalows are considered as the most vulnerable. Around one third of displaced population in student dormitory are older people and disabled with chronic diseases and conditions.
Schools are officially closed since 16 March due to the COVID-19 measures and all classes are running online. There is no exact number yet of damaged education facilities. At least three hospitals are partially or completely damaged but still operational.
The city of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje county declared emergency situation in order to start damage restoration.
Thesituation is very challenging in the city of Zagreb and Krapina-Zagorje county as there are still people who have to leave their homes after first screening of buildings is done. At the same time, the situation of the COVID-19 outbreak and movement restriction in the whole country creates a combination of emergencies the Croatian Red Cross has to address.
The effects of the earthquake are exacerbated due to COVID-19. Even at the first minutes after the earthquake, people left their homes and they needed to keep physical distance, in a situation which normally would keep people closer. Hence, psychosocial consequences will be much more difficult than in other disasters: fear is extremely high as people are just switching from fear of earthquake to fear from potential infection. Providing any kind of assistance is also difficult as affected people have to keep distance and cannot make face-to-face social contacts and usual psychosocial support cannot take place due to restrictive health measures. Resources of all organizations, including Croatian Red Cross are reaching its limits in a very demanding socio-economic situation. Focus of the public is mostly on COVID-19 outbreak, leaving people affected by the earthquake forgotten. The Croatian Red Cross and all affected RC branches are assisting and providing support to Government, Civil Protection and local authorities with various activities, with a focus on the most vulnerable.