Zagreb Earthquake: Overwhelming International Response and Solidarity

Daniela Rogulj

March 23, 2020 – A series of earthquakes rattled the Croatian capital on Sunday morning. The international response to the Zagreb earthquake has been overwhelming. 

On Sunday evening, Belgrade sent support to the citizens of Zagreb from their balconies and terraces during the “Applause at Eight” campaign. Recall, the campaign started during the curfew imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic as a way to support medical staff. This time, the applause was used to stand in solidarity with Zagreb after the Sunday morning earthquake, reports T.portal.

Namely, the civic initiative “Let’s not give up, Belgrade” called on citizens to applaud for their “vulnerable neighbors in the earthquake” that hit Zagreb, and said that this applause should be dedicated not only to the people of Zagreb in current circumstances, but also to citizens across the Balkans.

“Our states and societies are facing the spread of COVID-19, and another disaster has hit our first neighbors. The earthquake, which damaged several buildings and other structures, further aggravated the lives of Zagreb residents and complicated the fight against the pandemic. May this ‘Applause at Eight’ be for all those who are struggling all over the Balkans in increasingly complicated conditions,” they said in a statement.

The virus will pass, but in our society “solidarity, mutual concern and support for all of our citizens” should remain forever, the statement added.

In other news, the Slovenian government decided to send an ambulance to Zagreb after the earthquake in the Croatian capital and its surroundings on Sunday morning, Slovenian Defense Minister Matej Tonin confirmed in a news release. It was equipped with ten tents that can accommodate up to 80 people, with 60 beds, as many sleeping bags and 20 heaters.

This is Slovenia’s contribution to the assistance Croatia has requested under the European Civil Protection Mechanism, and from the state warehouse, assistance will continue towards Croatia.

The City of Sarajevo sent Zagreb a message of support and love by lighting up the Sarajevo City Hall.

“The capital of BiH informs the citizens of Zagreb and the whole of Croatia that they are in our thoughts and prayers. These difficult challenges we face will strengthen our friendship and deepen our cooperation. I am convinced, Mr. Bandic, that you and your fellow citizens, the City Administration of Zagreb and the Government of Croatia, will once again rise and recover from this grave accident, as we will overcome the coronavirus pandemic with solidarity. Sarajevo does not forget its friends,” said Sarajevo Mayor Abdulah Skaka.

Croatian Ambassador to BiH Ivan Sabolic expressed his gratitude to the Mayor of Sarajevo for his support to Zagreb.

“I personally thanked him for his nice and strong gesture of support and friendship,” Sabolic said.

Clubs and athletes from the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina also sent messages of support.

On Sunday, Sarajevo football clubs Sarajevo and Zeljeznicar, Portland Trail Blazers basketball player Marija Hezonja, Jusuf Nurkic, and captain of the BiH national football team and Roma striker Edin Dzeko, stepped forward. 

“Be strong, Zagreb, Zeljeznicar wrote on its Facebook page. “A series of earthquakes hit the Croatian capital this morning. Take care, Zagreb!” Sarajevo announced.

Jürgen Klopp, the famous German coach who has led Liverpool to the greatest results in the last 30 years, also sent a message to Zagreb on his Facebook page.

HRT reported that Barcelona footballer Ivan Rakitic said that the Croatia national team would “give a lot of help” to Zagreb.

“We are going from one bad situation to another. A lot of people, friends, family called me this morning… the earthquake was stronger than many years ago. It happened when we were all in our homes. The situation with the virus in Croatia is not so difficult yet, but the earthquake has destroyed hospitals, homes,” Rakitic said in a video posted on the website of Barcelona.

“I would like to send support to the residents of Zagreb. The national team players have spoken, and we will be of great help in getting everyone out of this situation together,” added the 32-year-old midfielder.

After Sunday’s earthquake in Zagreb, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Croatian people and asked Christ to give them strength and solidarity in the face of disaster during a church service in the Vatican.

The Pope indicated that he would send an extraordinary message and blessing this week to “Urbi et Orbi” (City and World), which is usually referred only to Christmas and Easter, and called for prayer worldwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Vatican News website:

At the close of his remarks following the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of Croatia, which was struck by magnitude 5.4 earthquake Sunday morning.

The Holy Father prayed, “May the Risen Lord give them the strength and solidarity to face this calamity”.

TCN even received a nice message of support:

Dear TCN,

In 2011 my city – Christchurch, New Zealand-suffered a devastating earthquake which cost us 185 lives. We also lost our iconic cathedral. 

I fell in love with your country when I visited last year and you have been in my thoughts constantly. It’s time like this people feel the need to ‘do something’. From so far away I feel so powerless. 

I don’t know the point of this email but it is written with tears in my eyes. 

A phrase emerged that bought us together at the time, and through further horrific events that occurred in our city:

Kia Kaha

Kia kaha is a Māori phrase used by the people of New Zealand as an affirmation, meaning “stay strong”



You are never alone.

Follow our live updates on the Zagreb earthquake. 



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