Series of damaging earthquakes hit capital Zagreb, Croatia – the strongest since 1880


Several moderately strong and shallow earthquakes shook Croatian capital Zagreb early Sunday morning (LT), March 22, 2020. EMSC registered the strongest ones as M5.3 at 05:39 UTC and M5.0 at 06:17 UTC. Both quakes were registered at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). The USGS registered the strongest one as M5.4 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). 

Croatian Geophysical Institute is reporting the strongest one as M5.5, making it the largest earthquake to hit Zagreb since 1880 (M6.3).

Widespread damage was reported across the capital and nearby cities.

At least 27 people were injured, of which 18 severely. 1 person has been killed.

At least 30 aftershocks were registered before the end of the day (LT).

The epicenters were located about 6 km (3.7 miles) SE of Kašina (population 1 500) and 7 km (4.3 miles) NE of capital Zagreb (population 699 000), Croatia.

According to the USGS, there are about 3 250 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

56 000 people are estimated to have felt very strong shaking, 864 000 strong, 402 000 moderate and 2 065 000 light.

The USGS issued a yellow alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized. Past yellow alerts have required a local or regional level response.

Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Croatia.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake-resistant construction. The predominant vulnerable building types are rubble/field stone with mud and unreinforced brick with mud and timber post construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

The quake lasted more than 10 seconds, resulting in widespread damage across the capital and nearby cities and causing many people to rush into the streets.

Zagreb's iconic cathedral, rebuilt after it toppled during the 1880 M6.3 earthquake, was also damaged, with the top of its two spires collapsing.

Authorities are urging everyone to keep social distance from each other as the country struggles to contain COVID-19. In addition, the country is dealing with a cold outbreak, forcing authorities to warn everyone to keep warm and stay out of damaged buildings.

Authorities from the nearby Nuclear Power Plant Krško said the plant was not damaged.

Internet services are down in some areas.

Power outages have also been reported.

People living close to the epicenter are reporting frequent tremors.

37 aftershocks were registered by 03:00 UTC, March 23.

Early March 23 estimates suggest more than 250 damaged buildings. However, damage surveys are still in progress.

In total, 27 people were injured, of which 18 severely. 12 of them were hospitalized, including a 15-year-old girl who was hit by falling debris. Unfortunately, she died in the hospital on March 23.

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

Selected cities exposed

Regional seismicity


Images courtesy N1 Croatia

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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