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Croatia earthquake causes widespread damage in Zagreb | World news

A strong earthquake has shaken Croatia and its capital, causing panic, the evacuation of hospitals and widespread damage – including to the city’s cathedral – all amid a partial coronavirus lockdown.

A 15-year-old was in a critical condition and several others injured, news outlets reported.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck a wide area north of Zagreb at 6.23am local time (0523 GMT) on Sunday. The epicentre was 4 miles (7km) north of the capital at a depth of 6 miles (10km).

The prime minister, Andrej Plenković, said the earthquake was the biggest in Zagreb in the last 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.

The damaged cathedral in Zagreb

The damaged cathedral in Zagreb. Photograph: Antonio Bronić/Reuters

Footage showed mothers dressed in nightgowns hugging their newborn babies in a parking lot as they evacuated a damaged maternity hospital during freezing temperatures. The women, newborn babies and incubators were being moved to a new location with the help of the army.

Zagreb’s cathedral was also damaged, with the top of one of its two spires collapsing. The structurel was rebuilt after it toppled in the 1880 earthquake.

Power was cut and several fires were o reported. At least two other tremors were recorded later. Residents shared photos of belongings falling off shelves, broken bottles and glass inside homes.

Officials first said a 15-year-old had been killed, but doctors later said she was in a critical condition. They gave no immediate details on the extent of other injuries.

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 homes. Up to five people are allowed to be together while keeping a distance.

The prime minister urged people to remain calm and stay outside their homes in central areas of Zagreb, which sustained the most damage.

“We have two parallel crises that contradict each other,” Plenković said after an emergency meeting of Croatia’s top officials.

Croatian soldiers wearing masks and carrying shovels could be seen helping efforts to clear the damage on the streets of Zagreb. Officials toured the damaged areas as some citizens criticised city authorities over the poor state of buildings in the old part of the city, some of which date back to the 19th century.

“We will try to clear the streets as soon as possible,” Plenković said. “Stay outside your homes and keep distance.”

The interior minister, Davor Božinović, said the situation was complicated by the virus-related measures.

“There are rules for when there is an earthquake, but when there is an earthquake at the same time when there is a global pandemic, then it’s a much more complex situation,” he told the state news agency HINA.

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