Minister: Task force dealing with aftermath of Dec 29 quake to work 24 hours a day

(Hina) - Deputy Prime Minister Tomo Medved said in Petrinja on Monday that the newly-established task force dealing with the aftermath of the December 29 earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina County, which he was heading, would operate 24 hours a day for all those in need of help.

Medved was appointed in line with a government decision to head the task force dealing with the consequences of the December 29 earthquake in Sisak-Moslavina, Zagreb and Karlovac counties.

The task force held its first meeting in the Petrinja barracks on Monday evening.

"We have received reports on work done so far to remove the consequences of the earthquake (in Sisak-Moslavina County). We have heard reports from the county head and the mayors of Sisak, Glina and Petrinja. This task force will operate 24 hours a day," Medved said after the meeting, noting that all information on the task force staff and its phone numbers would be made available to the public on Tuesday.

The task force will coordinate its activities with the existing emergency and other services and will respond promptly to all current problems as well as plan future operations, in this case reconstruction, said Medved.

Earthquake affects 12 of 19 local gov't units in Sisak-Moslavina County

Sisak-Moslavina County head Ivo Zinic said that the December 29 earthquake had affected 12 of 19 local government units, four big towns and eight municipalities and close to 116,000 people, and that the property of more than 50,000 people had suffered extensive damage.

Thirty churches were damaged, of which ten collapsed, 40 schools have been damaged and 11 have been made unusable, and 3,000 family farms, 700 small businesses and 800 firms have suffered damage, he said.

The county crisis management team has been working in difficult circumstances from the very beginning, but it is functioning, five mobile teams of the county Civil Protection today visited 37 villages and 211 households, Zinic said.

He noted that the biggest problem was the accommodation of people whose houses had been destroyed and organised food preparation for the population and volunteers.

"We are already thinking about the revitalisation of this whole region, this may be an opportunity for that," he said.

17,000 requests for inspection by structural engineers

Construction Minister Darko Horvat said that currently there were more than 17,000 requests for inspection by structural engineers, that 700 structural engineers were out in the field on Monday and that more than 5,500 units were checked, of which 30% were no longer usable.

He said that the owners of properties made unusable by the earthquake were expected to give their consent for the removal of their property.

Units that have been damaged by the earthquake will be repaired, a difference will be made between public and private property and there will be several models of reconstruction, he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic, who is a deputy head of the task force dealing with the aftermath of the December 29 earthquake, said that local officials presented concrete problems at the task force's meeting while representatives of ministries presented concrete figures on resources and the measures taken or expected to be taken.

"This is a good start but there is still a lot of work ahead, we have great responsibility to reconstruct this region and restore life that was devastated not only by the earthquake but also by the war," he stressed, thanking all services active on the ground as well as volunteers.

Nikola Mazar, State Secretary at the Central State Office for Reconstruction and Housing, said the office had made 220 state-owned flats, of which 30 were in the areas of Sisak and Petrinja, available to the earthquake victims.

He noted that the rent and utilities would be paid for by the state.

Mazar said organised reconstruction would be launched and that it would have to be conducted in line with the highest safety standards.