Hundreds of Sinkholes Appear Across Croatian Region After December Earthquake

Thousands of people are living fear of being swallowed up by the Earth after hundreds of sinkholes appear in an area that was shaken by strong earthquake just over two months ago.

On December 29, 2020, Croatia recorded its strongest earthquake ever. Measured at 6.4 points on the Richter magnitude scale, the quake directly affected 116,000 people, mainly in the cities of Petrinja, Sisak, and Glina, and the rural areas around them. Over 35,000 homes and 4,550 businesses were damaged by the strong tremor and its many aftershocks, and five fatalities attributed to the destructive natural phenomenon were reported. Now, over two months since the earthquake, people in the affected area are even more worried about the sink holes that keep appearing.

Photo: YouTube

According to reports by people in the village of Mečenčani, located about 25 km from the epicenter of the earthquake, the first sinkholes appeared two days before the quake, but 10 days after the natural disaster, there were 15 sinkholes in the village, as well as another 15 in the surrounding area.

Photo: Reddit

Tomo Medved, the head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the 29 December earthquake, told Croatia Radio that the number of sinkholes in the Kukuruzari Municipality, in the area around  Petrinja, had increased from 40 last week to more than 70.

Photo: YouTube

Because the sinkholes keep popping up at an astonishing rate, scientists haven’t even gotten a chance to evaluate the situation. Experts at the Zagreb Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering have made some recommendations, but with lives hanging in the balance, it’s hard for anyone to take responsibility and come up with a strategy.


“This is now a really big number, large expansion, and we are faced with the challenge of finding a solution… so that the lives of the people living here are not in any danger,” Medved said, adding that many of the sinkholes were in the immediate vicinity of family homes.

Because aftershocks are still being recorded in the area affected by the December 29 earthquake, more sinkholes are expected to appear, and filling existing ones up is currently not a solution. For now, authorities are evacuating the most affected communities and setting up temporary housing in the form of container homes.


Some of the holes investigated by the task force deployed in the affected area are several meters wide, with the largest up to 30 m across. The deepest sinkhole is about 15 meters deep, but most are filled with water which makes estimating their depth very difficult.


Although some experts are saying that sinkholes in this karst region would have opened up eventually, even without the earthquake, the rate at which they are appearing and the sheer number of them is very unusual.


While not as frightening as the giant, funnel-like holes that have been appearing across the Russian tundra, Croatia’s sinkholes are a lot more dangerous, as they are popping up in populated area.

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