A strong earthquake has struck Croatia and its capital Zagreb, triggering widespread damage and panic across the country. The huge 5.3 magnitude quake, which could be felt across five different European countries, has left at least one person dead. A 15-year-old teenager was pronounced dead after being pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building. 

Officials reported that more than a dozen people were injured and the quake had damaged a number of key buildings, including a children’s hospital.

The quake hit the country amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has wreaked havoc across Europe and has mandated social distancing guidelines. 

According to local residents, the earthquake struck just as severe restrictive measures to combat coronavirus were coming into effect.

In the wake of the earthquake, Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic urged people in the streets to keep social distance from each other.

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The country has so far struggled to contain the spread of coronavirus, with at least 206 confirmed cases of the virus and one death.

One local tweeted: “Zagreb hit by 5.3 magnitude earthquake 30 minutes ago just as full lockdown started. Now everyone’s outside grouped in front of their buildings. This won’t help.”

Images from the destruction revealed cars completely crushed under the falling debris and collapsed buildings.

The capital’s famous cathedral was damaged, with one of its spires crumbling under the strength of the earthquake. 

The Institute for Urgent Medicine, an emergency hospital, confirmed that one child had been admitted with head injuries from a falling roof.

One witness said: “It lasted over 10 seconds. By far the strongest I have ever felt.”

Another added: “It felt like a train was coming through my apartment, in all my time in the city I have never felt anything like that before.”

The earthquake was so strong that it could be felt across five different European countries – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria.

European Council President Charles Michel tweeted: “My thoughts are with the people of #Croatia following the devastating #earthquake this morning.”

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