A series of aftershocks jolted central Croatia Wednesday, a day after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake killed at least seven people, injured dozens and left several towns and villages in ruins.
The strongest, magnitude 4.7, tremor was recorded early Wednesday near the heavily damaged town of Petrinja, some 40km (25 miles) southeast of the Croatian capital, Zagreb.
Many of Patrinja’s 25,000 people had spent the night in tents, their cars or military barracks, sleepless in fear of aftershocks.
In the hard-hit nearby village of Majske Poljane, where five people died in the earthquake, a little boy could be seen sleeping inside a van on a chilly December morning.
Sobbing villagers said they received blankets, food and other aid but do not know what they will do next. Rain that fell overnight in the area turned the dust from the rubble into mud, adding to the hardship.
“We can’t say ‘Good morning,’ It is not good,” Petrinja’s Mayor Darinko Dumbovic told Croatian radio. “We had the third and fourth tremors this morning, short ones but strong. What hasn’t fallen off before is falling now from the ruins of Petrinja.”
Dumbovic said his office had been destroyed in the earthquake and city authorities were scrambling to function, adding that help is pouring in from all over the country and “solutions must be found”.
Damir Glatki, a resident of Prekop, told Al Jazeera: “We are afraid to go back into our houses. We were inside when the earthquake started and we have been outside ever since. Everything is damaged, and we don’t feel safe going back inside.
“We lost everything once during the war, and now we lost everything for the second time.”
Mladen Turk, who lives near Petrinja, told Al Jazeera: “Luckily we have a small camping house here in the village that we can stay in, and my wife and I have spent the night here. The electricity is back in this area so we can also turn on the heating, take a shower and charge our phones.”
Mara Ivanovic, who is from Petrinja, said: “We are terrified. The house is still holding on, but the inside has been completely devastated, and we cannot go back in. We have two children. We all stayed outside in our car. We haven’t slept the entire night.”
Al Jazeera’s Tanja Novak, reporting from Prekopa, southwest of Petrinja, said: “What we see here on the ground is that the help is constantly arriving to the places hit by the earthquake. The initial response from the entire country had been great.
“People are sending food, water, blankets. The Red Cross is coordinating the equal distribution, so there were no complaints from residents in terms of the first aid. The plan is now to send container houses where people can stay for the time being.”
Rescuers spent the night searching through the rubble of heavily damaged buildings looking for possible survivors.
Officials said a 12-year-old girl died in Petrinja, a town of about 25,000 people. At least 26 people were hospitalised with injuries.
Parts of Petrinja and the nearby town of Sisak were still without electricity Wednesday morning.
The European Union’s crisis management chief, Janez Lenarcic, was due to visit Petrinja later in the day as the bloc prepared to send aid.
“At the moment, mostly winter tents, electric heaters, sleeping beds and sleeping bags are needed as well as housing containers”, Lenarcic wrote on Twitter
Tuesday’s quake, the strongest in Croatia since the introduction of the modern seismic measurement system, was felt throughout the region, including neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovenia.
The central Croatian region was also struck by a magnitude 5.2 earthquake on Monday and seismologists say several more aftershocks could be expected.