26 March 2020

Zagreb holding strong after powerful earthquake

On Sunday morning, residents in ICLEI Member Zagreb woke up to the Croatian capital’s most powerful earthquake in 140 years. Widespread images circulated in the media of locals pouring out into the snowy streets in their pyjamas in the early hours, ironically just as coronavirus social distancing measures had started to be enforced.

Tragically, a 15 year old girl lost her life in the earthquake and a maternity hospital was badly affected, with mothers having to hold their newborn babies outside on the freezing streets. With several more people injured and huge damage done, in particular to historical buildings, all amid the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the city is facing major challenges, and doing what it can to tackle them head-on.

Among the areas to experience the heart of the 5.3 magnitude earthquake was the neighbourhood of Sesvete, an industrial area located in the foothills of the Medvednica mountain. The neighbourhood is also a Living Lab for nature-based solutions (NBS) in the proGIreg project – an NBS project ICLEI is a partner to.

Speaking about the recent tragedy, Marijo Spajic, from Zelene I Plave Sesevete, a local NGO in the neighbourhood, said: “Sesvete is holding strong, even though it was at the epicentre of the earthquake – the ground still keeps shaking all the time, which is not really pleasant, but we have to take care of the pandemic now.”

Despite living in uncertain times, where things we used to accept as the norm are no longer, community spirit and global solidarity is more important than ever – even if we have to keep our physical distance. It's with this in mind that the proGIreg team, together with a local company and with support from the Croatian Student Assembly, have started using 3D printers to produce face protection masks for medical staff in local hospitals. 

For more information on the earthquake from the City of Zagreb (in Croatian), click here.
Zagreb has also set up an earthquake relief fund (details available in English) to help those affected by the earthquake.