Town in state of emergency after earthquake

BELGRADE -- An earthquake with the epicenter in central Serbia killed two people early on Wednesday.

Rescuers work in Kraljevo (Tanjug)
Rescuers work in Kraljevo (Tanjug)

The 5.6-magnitude quake hit at 01:56 CET injuring about 50 others.

The epicenter was 10 kilometers north-west of the town of Kraljevo, about 125 km south of Belgrade.

The victims were a married couple who died when their house collapsed in the suburb of Grdica, Interior Minister Ivica Dačić confirmed. The victims were identified as Natalija and Siniša Stašić, both in their 50s. Their son who was in the house when the earthquake struck escaped unharmed.

Dačić said that MUP's rescue units were on the scene to clear the debris, since no one else was trapped under any of the collapsed structures.

The earthquake magnitude, measured in its epicenter, was 5.4 on the Richter scale, or 7.5 on the Mercalli scale.

Several aftershocks of lower magnitude followed the main quake.

According to Tanjug's correspondent, the damage caused by the earthquake is visible in the streets of Kraljevo - rubble, broken glass, cracked facades. The hospital building in Kraljevo was also damaged by the earthquake, but no patients were injured. The operating block and polyclinic sustained the most damage.

MUP's Gendarmerie and police units for emergency situations were deployed in the area. The town's administration on Wednesday morning declared a state of emergency, with about a quarter of the urban area still without electricity.

Landline telephony that was briefly out of service has also been restored, said reports. Authorities also announced that tap water was not safe to drink.

The government in Belgrade has reacted by announcing it will set aside RSD 6mn (some EUR 55,000) in short-term help for the town.

PM Mirko Cvetković said that the long-term assistance decision will be made once the damage has been assessed.

Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said that while military facilities in and near Kraljevo sustained damage, there were no injuries among the soldiers.

President Boris Tadić has announced he would visit the area during the day.

The earthquake was felt in other parts of Serbia, including Belgrade and Novi Sad.

More photos from the affected area

Stronger earthquake not expected

Director of the Serbian Seismological Institute on Mt. Divčibare Slavica Radovanović told Tanjug early on Wednesday that they do not expect stronger tremors after the last night's earthquake.

Radovanović, however, said that several earthquakes of smaller magnitude may be expected after the main earthquake, and that they will go on in the coming days.

She also said that it is difficult to estimate the size of the damage at this particular moment, but evaluated that it might be considerable since there are about 2,500 facilities in Kraljevo and the vicinity that were built without seismic protection and are not resistant to earthquakes.

Radovanović also said that earthquakes of such magnitude do not usually destroy facilities completely but cause structural damage and parts of buildings collapse.