Earthquake collapses Croatian church, organist found dead

An earthquake has caused the collapse of Parish St. Nikola, a Catholic church in the town of Žažina, Zagreb, Croatia. An organist, Stanko Zec, and a few others were found in the rubbles of the 15-meter-high tower. The earthquake was reported to have registered 6.4 on the Richter scale on Tuesday, December 29, 2020.

Croatian daily newspaper, Vecernji, reported that Zec and others went into the church to recover some valuables items on the altar. Meanwhile, Božidar Škofac -a church member- recalled that the ceiling fell in on them when Zec went to cover the organ with nylon to protect it from dust.

"It was a horrible blow. I saw a chandelier hanging from the vault falling; it was collapsing right in that central part. I knew the collapse would spread to the edges so I quickly hid under the coffee table. I crawled under it and there was a terrible noise and dust. The table was covered with bricks and dust, as well as benches. The entire ceiling fell, only the walls remained. I was captured, three colleagues escaped to the sacristy and started calling us," Skofac said. 

In addition, Skofac recounted a man hurried to move the bricks and freed Zec from the rubble after the collapse. He also spoke about the dedication of the organist.

"I led the church choir, and he played. He has three sons and a wife. He was very engaged in the church as a believer, he always helped. He was a good man."

However, Skofac and a few others managed to escape with only minor injuries. On Thursday, a funeral was held for Zec. 

According to reports, the earthquake was felt across the nation of just over 4 million people and the Balkan regions. The epicenter of the quake was found 3 miles from the Croatian town of Petrinja, approximately 8 miles from Žažina.

In his reaction to the sad occurrence, the Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, tweeted:

"We are doing everything we can to help the citizens of Petrinja and surrounding areas in this dramatic and tragic situation. The destructive earthquake has taken human lives, destroyed homes, and we deeply sympathize with every person and every family that has been harmed."

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