ZAGREB, Croatia – A strong earthquake in Croatia on Sunday caused panic, the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage including to the capital's iconic cathedral, all amid a partial coronavirus lockdown.
A 15-year-old was reported to be in critical condition and 16 others were injured, authorities said.
The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake measured 5.3 and struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb, at 6:23 a.m. Sunday. The epicenter was 4 miles north of Zagreb at a depth of 6 miles.
There were at least four weaker temblors after the initial quake. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the earthquake was the biggest in Zagreb in 140 years.
Many buildings in the capital cracked and walls and rooftops were damaged. Downtown streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.
Footage from the scene showed mothers dressed in nightgowns hugging their newborn babies in a parking lot as they evacuated a damaged maternity hospital amid freezing temperatures. The women, newborn babies and incubators were being moved to a new location with the help of the army.
Zagreb's iconic cathedral was also damaged, with the top of one of its two spires collapsing. The cathedral was rebuilt after it toppled in the 1880 earthquake.
The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to avoid public areas, such as parks and public squares, but had little choice as they fled their residences.
Health Minister Vili Beros warned people to keep a 7-foot “social distance” as requested by decrees passed by the government in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There are 235 cases confirmed in Croatia.