ZAGREB, 8 January (Hina) – Italy is sending a group of experts to Croatia to help save the cultural heritage of earthquake-hit Petrinja, while Bulgaria has provided €100,000 for the reconstruction of a secondary school and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb, the two countries’ embassies said on Friday.
A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck central Croatia on 29 December, causing extensive property damage in Petrinja, Sisak and surrounding communities. The tremor was felt in neighbouring countries as well, and aid is coming in from around the world.
Italy was among the first countries to come to Croatia’s aid, sending 100 military tents after the earthquake. This Sunday it is sending a group of Blue Helmets for Culture to help protect the artistic heritage of Petrinja and the surrounding area, the Italian Embassy said in a statement.
Blue Helmets for Culture is a task force established by UNESCO in 2015 in response to the destruction and looting of cultural heritage in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilisation, by the terrorist group ISIS. The first task force was formed in 2016 under an agreement between UNESCO and the Italian government.
The first mission of Blue Helmets for Culture in Croatia will last a week and will be followed by a second contingent of Italian Blue Helmets.
The Italian Embassy building in Zagreb has been closed because of damage caused by the earthquake. The Embassy has launched a fundraiser to help Croatian institutions with the reconstruction of damaged areas.
“We sympathise because we are close not just historically but also thanks to many joint projects in the Adriatic and because Italy has fresh memories of seismic disasters. We want to share our experience with our Croatian friends,” Italian Ambassador Pierfrancesco Sacco said.
In the last 50 years, Italy has been hit by dozens of earthquakes, some with devastating consequences, such as those that struck Friuli in 1976 and Irpinia in 1980 as well as those that occurred more recently, in L’Aquila in 2009 and Amatrice in 2016, the Italian Embassy said.
Bulgaria sent an aid delivery worth €83,660 via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on 1 January, including 100 radiators, 500 camping beds and 300 mattresses, the Bulgarian Embassy said.
Three Bulgarian trucks delivered mineral and spring water, and the Bulgarian government provided €100,000 for the reconstruction of the Gornjogradska Gimnazija school building and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb (€50,000 for each building). The Embassy said that the two institutions had played an important role in the past in bringing Bulgarians and Croats closer together.
At the end of December, the Bulgarian Embassy donated food to the Croatian Red Cross for earthquake victims.