Question Time: Earthquake damage reported on 42,037 buildings

Zagreb - Construction Minister Darko Horvat said in Parliament on Tuesday that earthquake damage had been reported on 42,037 buildings and that the state would pay for the construction of new homes or the finding of replacement ones for owners whose houses would have to be torn down.

Structural engineers have inspected 20,001 damaged buildings, Horvat said during Question Time, responding to Czech and Slovak minority MP Vladimir Bilek, who asked how the state would help in the reconstruction.

Horvat said some of the inspected buildings that were given the red label would have to be torn down, while some would get the yellow label after stairway or chimney repairs. Buildings with the yellow and red labels would have to obtain a report on their condition so that an authorised planner could make a decision on reconstruction, he added.

He told the people of Sisak, regarding state-financed reconstruction, that "the Government hasn't forgotten anyone and won't leave anyone on their own when it comes to housing." The state will fully pay for finding or building a replacement home for the residents of Sisak whose homes were so damaged that they will have to be demolished, he added.

Regarding the reconstruction of housing units, Horvat said the criteria from the law on the post-earthquake reconstruction of Zagreb would apply, so some would be exempt from covering 20% of the costs.

Post-earthquake reconstruction bill in parliament 20 days after the disaster

Nearly 45,000 buildings in Sisak-Moslavina County have been reported damaged in the 6.2 earthquake that struck on 29 December 2020, compared with 26,000 buildings reported damaged after the 5.5 earthquake hit Zagreb on 22 March 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević told Parliament on Tuesday.

The 29 December earthquake claimed seven lives and caused extensive property damage in Glina, Petrinja, Sisak, and surrounding communities.

About 400 people left homeless have been placed in collective accommodation in the army barracks in Petrinja and the Topusko spa, and about 114 have so far been accommodated in houses and apartments made available by the State Office for Reconstruction. Five hundred mobile homes have been set up, while the exact number of those provided through private donations is not known, Milošević said in response to an appeal by Dragana Jeckov of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) to speed up the accommodation and reconstruction processes. 

Milošević said that over 300 structural engineers were at the scene working round the clock, that the Red Cross had distributed 467 tonnes of food and over 240,000 hot meals, and that the post-earthquake reconstruction bill was in parliament 20 days after the disaster.

"Tomorrow we will discuss amendments to the Reconstruction Act. We are ready to help the residents of Sisak as much as we can, we don't want them to feel discriminated against," Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said after Social Democrat Peđa Grbin asked whether the Government decision to fully finance the reconstruction of the affected areas would also apply to Sisak.

"The earthquake has devastated Sisak to such an extent that the development criterion does not apply," the prime minister said, recalling that Sisak-Moslavina County was an assisted area, while Sisak proper was not, given its development index.

Grbin noted that the Prime Minister had not specified whether earthquake victims in Zagreb, who are currently living in housing containers, would have their utility bills covered by the Government in the same way earthquake victims in Sisak-Moslavina County would.

Tourist season is being prepared

Responding to a question from Marin Mandarić of the ruling HDZ, Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac said the next tourist season was being prepared and that safety would be of the utmost importance this year. She announced national safety protocols for hotels, restaurants, marinas, and family farms.

Responding to questions about the coronavirus situation, Health Minister Vili Beroš said it was satisfactory and that the average 14-day incidence was 367.42 per 100,000 people.

Hospitalisations are decreasing but cumulative mortality remains high at 1,117 per million people, he said, calling for caution due to a new strain in Europe.

"A sudden relaxation of measures would not be an option... The relaxation of measures will be gradual and adjusted to the epidemiological situation."

Independent MP Karolina Vidović Krišto accused Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of exerting "influence on the judiciary." He countered that politicians did not elect judges and that her questions reminded one of "rhetorical escapades."

Author: Hina