A strong and deadly earthquake hit central Croatia just after noon local time (6:20 a.m. EST) on Tuesday, killing at least six people and causing widespread destruction.
The quake was measured at 6.4 magnitude by the United States Geological Survey.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center said it struck 28 miles southeast of the capital city Zagreb. Among the hardest hit was the town of Petrinja, where, according to government officials, a 12-year-old girl died.
“My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children,” Petrinja Mayor Darinko Dumbović said in a statement broadcast by state HRT television.
Another five people were killed in a village nearby, according to HRT. Officials said 20 people were hospitalized and many more are unaccounted for.
Emergency teams used rescue dogs to help search for survivors.
Authorities in Slovenia said the Krsko nuclear power plant has been shut down. The power plant near the Slovenia-Croatia border is jointly owned by the two countries.
Marica Pavlovic, a resident, told the Associated Press, “It was horrible, a shock, you don’t know what to do, whether to run out or hide somewhere.”
Dumbović told CNN’s Croatian affiliate N1, “We need firefighters … we are pulling people out of cars. We don’t know if people have died or have been injured. I heard a kindergarten has collapsed but luckily there weren’t any children there, while in another one the children were able to escape.”
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has visited towns close to the epicenter.
“I’d like to express my condolences to the families of the victims of the earthquake in Petrinja and Glina. …” Plenkovic said in a tweet. “All emergency services are in action on the field and are working tirelessly to provide help to all those who need it.”