Many buildings cracked in Zagreb and walls and rooftops were damaged. Downtown streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.

Damaged cars are seen following an earthquake, in Zagreb, Croatia March 22, 2020.
Damaged cars are seen following an earthquake, in Zagreb, Croatia March 22, 2020. (Reuters)

A strong earthquake shook Croatia and its capital on Sunday, causing widespread damage and panic. A 15-year-old was in critical condition among other injuries, media reported.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake measured 5.3 and struck a wide area north of the capital, Zagreb, at 6:23 a.m. (0523 GMT) Sunday. 

The epicenter was 7 kilometres (4 miles) north of Zagreb at the depth of 10 kilometres (6 miles).

Many buildings cracked in Zagreb and walls and rooftops were damaged. Downtown streets were littered with debris. Concrete slabs fell on cars and chimneys landed in front of entrances.

Zarko Rasic, the head of Zagreb's emergency unit told state-run HINA news agency that a 15-year-old had suffered critical injuries but there were no fatalities.

He had incorrectly stated a death in an earlier report.

Inside homes, residents shared photos of belongings falling off shelves, broken bottles and glass.

The earthquake struck amid a partial lockdown of the capital because of the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to avoid public areas, such as parks and public squares, but had no choice as they ran out of their apartments.

Up to five people keeping distance are allowed to be together.

Zagreb's iconic cathedral was also damaged with the top of one of its two spires collapsing.

The cathedral was rebuilt after it toppled in the 1880 earthquake.

Power was cut as people ran out of their homes. Several fires were also reported. At least two other tremors were recorded later.

Source: AP