ZAGREB, 15 January (Hina) – Religious buildings are cultural assets that have sustained the greatest damage in the quakes that struck Sisak-Moslavina and Zagreb counties, but most objects in them are in good condition and can be evacuated, said Italian experts in a mission to evacuate valuable collections in Petrinja.
We are part of a working group of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities which consists of members of the army and civilians and is specialised in combating illegal trade in cultural artefacts and saving valuable objects in emergencies, said on Friday conservationist Paolo Scarpitti, who is in Petrinja together with members of the Italian Blue Helmets, Luigi Spadari and Francesco Prodigo.
The team arrived in Croatia on the order of the Italian culture and tourism minister, and a special field of their activity is rescuing objects from buildings destroyed by an earthquake, Scarpitti said.
Since Monday, Italian experts have visited some of the buildings that sustained the most damage in the recent earthquakes that occurred in Petrinja and its environs but also in Zagreb, and they have determined that the objects they had inspected were in good condition, he said.
Although their mission this time was only to carry out a survey and an assessment in order to make a precise evacuation plan for their next visit to Croatia, it was decided to evacuate part of the valuable national cultural heritage already on Friday, 15 January, including the ethnographic collection from the Petrinja secondary school and ten icons from Petrinja’s Orthodox Church of St Nicholas.
In four days, since Monday, the Italian team has visited 15 churches in Zagreb, Petrinja and its environs, and they have also been to Petrinja music school.
Of everything that we have seen in Zagreb and Petrinja, religious buildings sustained the most damage, with their roof collapsing in most cases, Spadari said.
According to him, there are many objects in the churches, especially religious objects, which their team will be able to evacuate during their next visit.
Tatjana Horvatić from Croatia’s Culture and Media Ministry said that those were experts with decades of experience in rescuing works of art in emergency situations such as earthquakes.