Strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattles Croatia; at least 6 dead

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Dec. 29 (UPI) — A magnitude-6.2 earthquake shook Croatia on Tuesday, causing at least six deaths and heavy damage near the capital of Zagreb, the Interior Ministry said.

The quake was centered just west of Petrinja, a city of 25,000 about 30 miles southeast of Zagreb, Croatian seismologists said.

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Shaking was felt around noon by nearly 6 million people in Croatia and around the Balkans, prompting large-scale rescue operations, state-owned HRT News reported.

The Interior Ministry said a 12-year-old girl was killed in Petrinja and five men died in nearby Majske Poljane. Officials said there were cries from victims trapped in towns in the region. Numerous injuries were reported.

“We are doing everything to help the residents of Petrinja and surrounding places in this dramatic and tragic situation,” Interior Minister Davor Božinović said. “The devastating earthquake took human lives, destroyed homes and we deeply sympathize with every human being and with all the families that have perished.”

An official said Sisak General Hospital was largely destroyed.

“We have nowhere to come to work tomorrow, only the gynecology building remains, where we are currently taking care of the most seriously ill,” said hospital director Tomislav Dujmenovic, who added that many of the severely injured were evacuated to Zagreb.

The Croatian Army was providing help in Petrinja under direction from Defense Minister Mario Banozic, officials said. Croatian President Zoran Mlanovic and Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also visited the city.

Tuesday’s quake was the second in the area within 24 hours, after a magnitude-5.0 earthquake on Monday.