human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Earthquakes in Croatia


On 29 December 2020 at 12:19, a devastating 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit central Croatia causing major damages in the towns of Petrinja and Sisak.

This was the second strong earthquake in two days and the strongest recorded in 140 years. Its strength was felt as far away as Zagreb, Velika Gorica and neighbouring countries, affecting an area of around 2,000 square kilometres. There are at least seven fatalities and many non-fatal casualties as search-and-rescue efforts continue.

Hundreds of houses have been destroyed and many more evacuated in Petrinja and Sisak. Hospitals on site have also been evacuated because of heavy damages. All public services have gone out of function, and roads have been blocked. The ground has been shaking day and night producing additional damages, including mud slides, and causing stress to victims and rescue teams. Many people spent the following nights outdoors, either in their cars or on the streets, for fear of strong aftershocks. Evacuated people were also accommodated in school halls. The ground in Petrinja is now 35 centimetres lower than before the quake, while in Glina it is 7 centimetres higher. In villages people have reported massive holes up to 3 meters in depth.

The situation is made worse by the current Covid-19 pandemic as the number of infected people rises daily and patients need to be relocated from the damaged hospitals to hospitals in Zagreb.


Caritas’ response

Caritas Croatia made immediately available emergency material assistance in the area of Sisak. It also provided financial help for the first emergency response.

More than 200 young Caritas volunteers have been mobilised to help distribute in-kind donations (food, water, clothes, shoes, tools, building materials, heaters) from the warehouse of Caritas Sisak. On 29 December, approximately 20 lorries of food were distributed to villages and cities of Petrinja, Glina and Sisak. Another 40 lorries were received in the warehouse on 31 December. At the moment there is enough clothes and food for the next days.

Caritas Croatia’s mobile soup kitchen will be moved to Glina in order to ensure cooked hot meals for the residents and the people in the surrounding villages (e.g. in Majske Poljane where 5 people lost their lives and 90% of the houses were totally demolished). The mobile soup kitchen’s capacity is 300 meals per turn.

No one will be forgotten, Caritas is here to stay for the long term

Msgr Fabijan Svalina, Caritas Croatia’s Director

Together with the Director of Sisak Diocesan Caritas Mrs Kristina Radićsays, Msgr Fabijan Svalina has been in the earthquake affected area since the very first day. On 2 January, they visited villages in Mala Solina, Majske Poljane, Bućica and Strašnik. They talked to the residents and listened to their need. Their focus was on reaching people in remote villages to distribute covers, heaters, food and water.

Support from the confederation

The President of Caritas Europa, Michael Landau, reached out to the President of Caritas Croatia, Bishop Bože Radoš, bringing a message of solidarity and confirming that the network is available to support by any means, particularly through the confederation’s emergency response mechanism. In this light, Caritas Europa and Caritas Internationalis are working with the leadership of Caritas Croatia to quickly identify appropriate support to move forward.

Contacts & Donations


Silvia Sinibaldi
International Cooperation and Humanitarian Director
Tel: +32 (0)2 235 03 95


If you want to support the work of Caritas Croatia, send your donation to the following bank account:

Hrvatski Caritas
Ksaverska cesta 12a, Zagreb, Croatia
Bank: Privredna banka Zagreb (PBZ)
Radnička cesta 50, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
IBAN: HR0523400091100080340



Update 17 May 2021

The Government has still not yet announced how and when it will start with repairing houses. The response of the National Civil Protectorate is focused only on removing demolished structures in eight locations (five in Petrinja and three in Glina). By 15 May 2021, a total of 90 structures had been removed (Petrinja 44, Glina 19, Sisak 12, Majur 3, Donji Kukuruzari 2, Lekenik 5, Jasenovac 2, Kravarsko 3).

Financial aid from the Government to repair non-structural elements of real estate damaged in the earthquake was raised from the previous 12,000 kuna (HRK) (approx. 1,600 EUR) to 16,000 HRK (approx. 2,130 EUR).

So far, a total of 1,719 container homes have been installed in an area of 2,000 km2. Damage has been reported on 37,512structures, but this is not confirmed. In Petrinja, 99,4 % of the reported damaged structures have now been inspected, while in Glina 99,1 % and in Sisak 92 %.

There is noticeable depopulation. The number of officially registered persons who have permanently left the area is: 1,388 in Petrinja, 1,136 in Sisak, 177 in Glina and 160 in other locations. Primary and high school teachers report many families leaving with children towards Zagreb and/or western Europe.

In its first phase of assistance, Caritas Croatia installed 200 container homes that are fully equipped for living.

The second phase of assistance is planned to be carried out in bilateral or even a consortium partnership with interested Caritas sister organisations. Based on an in-depth needs assessment, the project activities are likely to focus on: family support, education, livelihood and/or business recovery programmes and/or rebuilding houses, when possible. The official start of a new project focusing on recovery and rehabilitation is planned for September 2021.

Update 3 February 2021

Aftershocks have continued in January 2021, with a total of 622 earthquakes/tremors of magnitude 2.0 or higher recorded in the area. Since the end of January, hundreds of thousands of people have been living without power. Travel remains somewhat disrupted as damage assessments continue on public infrastructure, including on roads/bridges, railway lines, local airports, storage facilities, water treatment and supply plants, etc.

As of 29 January, a total of 26,000 buildings have been inspected (about 57% of all buildings in the area), with 3,100 requiring demolition, 5,300 requiring significant structural repairs to be made habitable and 15,800 having experienced moderate damage. Approximately one third of the population have left the area, either temporarily or permanently, seeking secure accommodation for themselves and their families.

Families remaining in the area require immediate attention, including:

  • Safe accommodation, particularly within the context of winter temperatures prevalent in the area;
  • Regular food supply for those unable to provide their own nutrition (elderly, single and otherwise vulnerable households);
  • Psychosocial support for survivors within the context of continuing quakes and tremors;
  • Other localised needs, such as medical attention, education for children, etc.

The provision of emergency shelter support continues to be of primary consideration, mainly because the extent of damages may change as the tremors continue. Since 29 January, Caritas has provided approximately 30 accommodation containers to needy families throughout the area of Sisak, Petrinja and Glina, with further deliveries continuing at approximately 6 per day.

Caritas Croatia continues to receive an overwhelming amount of in-kind support, including food and water, clothes/shoes, basic household items, including cooking utensils/heaters/furniture, building materials, etc.. Over 200 volunteers continue to distribute this assistance daily to the affected populations, primarily through the warehouse in Sisak and other distribution points. In addition, Caritas Croatia has organised a mobile kitchen, which provides 300 meals per shift.

Caritas Europa member organisations have been showing great generosity in supporting Caritas Croatia’s response, either via in-kind or financial support. Pope Francis has also made a donation via the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development.