ZAGREB, March 22 (Hina) – Pope Francis expressed his closeness with Zagreb after an earthquake hit the city in the early morning hours on Sunday and prayed to Christ that the Croatian people will have strength and solidarity in the face of disaster.
During Sunday’s Angelus prayer Pope Francis announced that this week he would conduct a special “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and the World) blessing which is usually only given for Christmas and Easter. The Pope called for prayer throughout the world as a response to the coronavirus pandemic and after the prayer, he spoke about the earthquake in Croatia.
“I express my closeness with the Croatian people, affected by the earthquake on Sunday morning. May the Risen Lord grant strength and solidarity to those faced with that disaster,” the Pope said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Pope said Sunday prayer via the Internet and television instead of in St. Peter’s Square.
EU leaders show support for Croatia in the wake of earthquake
Heads of European institutions expressed their support to Croatia after two strong earthquakes hit Zagreb on Sunday morning, offering support for the youngest EU member.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: Difficult situation for Croatia: earthquake and coronavirus. Our thoughts are with the Croatian people.
“Stay strong! The EU stands by your side!,” von der Leyen tweeted.
European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic also offered support to Croatia.
“We are closely following the situation on the ground in Croatia after an earthquake hit Zagreb. We are ready to help,” Lenarcic said on Twitter.
European Parliament President David Sassoli said, the “European Union is ready to do whatever it can to help” Zagreb after this morning’s earthquake.
European Council President Charles Michel too expressed his regret because of the destructive earthquake.
“I just assured (Croatian PM) Andrej Plenkovic that the EU stands with our friends and is ready to offer help and assistance,” Michel said on Twitter.
Support and readiness to help Croatia was also expressed by the head of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament, Iratxe Garcia Perez, and the liberal Renew Europe group in the EP.
Two strong earthquakes of 5.3 and 5.1 on the Richter scale hit Zagreb early on Sunday morning, followed by several minor tremors. About a dozen people have been injured, including a 15-year-old girl who is still in critical condition.
Severe damage was caused to Zagreb’s centre.