At least seven people have been found dead, including a young girl, after a strong earthquake rocked central Croatia.
Military teams and rescue dogs are searching the rubble left behind by the 6.4-magnitude tremors that could be felt as far away as Italy and Austria.
The quake caused widespread damage in the hardest-hit town of Petrinja, 60km southeast of the capital Zagreb, where many of the 25,000 locals were left without homes. The same area was struck by a 5.2 quake on Monday.
A 12-year-old girl was killed in Petrinja while another five people were found dead in a nearly destroyed village close to that town.
At least 20 people have been hospitalised, two with serious injuries, officials said. Many more people are missing including an organist who was inside a church in the village of Zazina.
Locals have been looking on in despair as emergency crews move between destroyed buildings looking for signs of life, with authorities vowing they would do all they can to find missing family members.
“We are pulling people from the cars, we don’t know if we have dead or injured,” Petrinja mayor Darinko Dumbovic told regional broadcaster N1.
“There is general panic, people are looking for their loved ones.”
In one case giving hope to relatives of the missing, a woman was found alive four hours after the quake hit. Her cries had been heard from underneath a destroyed house.
“My town has been completely destroyed. We have dead children,” the mayor said, in a statement broadcast by HRT.
“This is like Hiroshima – half of the city no longer exists.”
Marica Pavlovic, a resident, said the quake felt “worse than a war”.
“It was horrible, a shock. You don’t know what to do, whether to run out or hide somewhere,” she told The Associated Press.
Croatian President, Zoran Milanovic, and Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, travelled to Petrinja.
“The army is here. The barracks can accommodate several hundred people, families. But … it’s a horror,” Mr Milanovic said, according to the Dubrovnik Times.
“It was a difficult year, awful. It’s like adding insult to injury in the end, injury to insult.
“This will be (rebuilt), but one human, one child’s life was lost. Last year the strongest earthquake was in Durres, Albania, 6, 4. This is practically of the same strength.”
Officials later toured a damaged hospital in the nearby town of Sisak, which was also badly hit by the earthquake.
Health officials said a baby was delivered in a tent in front of the hospital in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Fallen bricks and dust littered the streets of Petrinja as emergency teams used rescue dogs to help search for survivors.
In Zagreb, people ran out into the streets and parks in fear, with reports of some leaving the city, ignoring a travel ban imposed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The earthquake was felt throughout the country, in neighbouring Serbia, Bosnia and Slovenia and even as far away as Austria.
Authorities in Slovenia said the Krsko nuclear power plant was temporarily shut down following the earthquake.
The power plant is jointly owned by Slovenia and Croatia and located near their border.