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Croatia government declares disaster for quake-hit areas

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(Photo: HINA/ Daniel KASAP/)

ZAGREB, 4 January (Hina) – Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday the government decided to declare a disaster for Sisak-Moslavina County and parts of Zagreb and Karlovac counties after last week’s 6.2 earthquake.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, he said the government also decided to form a crisis management team to be helmed by Deputy PM Tomo Medved.

Plenkovic said the government was invoking a state of disaster following information from the interior minister, via the civil protection system, on the extent of the damage and the effects on life.

He said the crisis management team would comprise representatives of all departments.

The aim, he said, is to “set the foundations not only of crisis management in the days immediately after the earthquake but also in the period which will envisage the organised reconstruction of damaged buildings and houses” in the three counties.

“We are confident the new structure will help representatives of regional and local government, the coordination of all services in channeling the support coming from citizens in a quality way.”

The cabinet meeting began with a minute’s silence for eight young people killed in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 1 January by exhaust gases from a generator.

Plenkovic recalled that last Monday Sisak-Moslavina County was struck by a magnitude 5 earthquake, which was followed on Tuesday by the 6.2 tremor which killed seven and injured 24 people, of whom 18 are still hospitalised. Four firefighters have been injured and a volunteer has been killed while helping.

Plenkovic once again extended his condolences to the families of those killed and noted that the aftershocks were still occurring. “That doesn’t mean we should fear, but we should be alert.”

He said the government and all services responded promptly since the first earthquake last Money, adding that 16 of 18 ministers already visited the quake-hit area and that two would do so on Tuesday.

The prime minister thanked the police, the army, civil protection, the Red Cross, firefighters and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service for making maximum efforts to ensure assistance. He also thanked citizens, volunteers and people of good will for showing a big heart and togetherness to help all those whose lives were uprooted by the tremor. “That was unity we can all be proud of.”

Plenkovic said structural and construction engineers were on the ground and that some were injured during the second tremor, hoping they are recovering well. He added that their experience was exceptionally important after the Zagreb quake last March.

He said many construction and other companies in Croatia sent machinery, water and food to the areas affected.

“There isn’t anyone who hasn’t participated in the response called Croatian solidarity,” Plenkovic said, thanking the many countries which extended support on short notice via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, delivering key necessities, including containers and tents. He also thanked EU member states and Croatia’s non-EU neighbours for providing financial assistance as well.

Plenkovic said the HRK 100 million the government set aside for Sisak-Moslavina County last week as emergency aid was distributed in good faith, based on preliminary damage estimates.

He said the government would provide additional aid to towns and villages, adding that “no one will be left on their own in this situation.”

He also commented on Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbovic’s refusal of the HRK 30 million given to his town because, he claimed, the money was being given along party lines.Plenkovic said he spoke with Dumbovic and that he understood his concern and the difficult circumstances he found himself in after such a disaster. “But he knows that we stand by him and the people of Petrinja, and there will be more support to Petrinja, just as in the first emergency measures.”

Plenkovic went on to say that the government did a lot also in terms of healthcare, thanking Minister Vili Beros and those engaged in the evacuation of hospitals in Sisak and Petrinja and the transfer of patients to Zagreb. We have shown efficiency and speed and now all those who needed care are doing well, he said.

Some buildings of the Sisak hospital are safe and will be able to take in more than 50 patients.

Plenkovic thanked the many citizens who donated money into the accounts of the State Treasury, the Red Cross and other organisations and foundations, saying “this first response is a big signal of support and the wish to help in various ways.”

Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved said on Monday that everyone helping to deal with the effects of last week’s earthquake would be maximally engaged, adding that people would be provided for first, followed by normalisation of life and the economy.

We will be maximally engaged in providing for the people without a roof over their heads and in mitigating the effects of the disastrous earthquake as soon as possible, Medved said at a cabinet meeting. He will head a team coordinating operations after the tremor in Sisak-Moslavina County and parts of Zagreb and Karlovac counties.

All activities will first focus on emergency measures to save people’s health and lives, to be followed by a systematic approach to normalising life, Medved said.

Submitting a report on what has been done so far, he thanked the civil protection and homeland security systems for their efforts.

Medved, the minister of war veterans, thanked them as well, saying they organised in large numbers to help.

Following the government’s decision to declare a disaster for the quake-hit areas, he said coordination there would be stepped up.

He said the businesses that were damaged or demolished in the quake would be helped too.

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