Quake aftershocks keep people out of homes in Croatia

PETRINJA, CROATIA: A series of aftershocks jolted central Croatia Wednesday, a day after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed at least seven people, injured dozens and left several towns and villages in ruins.

The strongest, 4.7-magnitude tremor was recorded early Wednesday near the heavily damaged town of Petrinja, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the Croatian capital, Zagreb. Many people had spent the night in tents, their cars or military barracks.

In the hard-hit village of Majske Poljane, where five people died in the earthquake, a little boy could be seen sleeping inside a van, wearing a cap on a chilly December morning.

Sobbing villagers said they received blankets, food and other aid but don't 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 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."

"Fear has crept into people," he said.

Dumbovic said his office was destroyed in the earthquake so the city authorities are scrambling to function. He said help is pouring in from all sides of the country and "solutions must be found."

Rescuers spent the night searching through rubble of heavily damaged buildings looking for possible survivors.

Officials said a 12-year-old girl died in Petrinja, a town of some 25,000 people. Another five people were killed in a nearly destroyed village close to the town. At least 26 people were hospitalized with injuries.

Tuesday's quake, which was the strongest in Croatia since the introduction of the modern seismic measurement system, was felt throughout the region, including neighboring Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia.

The central Croatian region was also struck by a 5.2 earthquake on Monday and seismologists say several more aftershocks could be expected.