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Disasters

EU supports Sweden in combating forest fires

EU Reporter Correspondent

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GP01JWE_layoutThe European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is facilitating the urgent provision of assistance to extinguish the forest fires raging in Sweden. Two fire-fighting aircraft, offered by Italy, are on their way to the affected areas.

Last night (3 August) Sweden activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to fight the forest fires in the mid-eastern part of the country. The ERCC immediately alerted the civil protection authorities of the countries participating in the Mechanism. By this morning, three countries offered assistance, and the Italian offer was accepted as most suitable for the needs on the ground. No further assistance is needed at this stage.

"I express my sincere gratitude to the Italian authorities for providing swift support to Sweden in this moment of need. Let us hope that our biggest fear of the blaze spreading to urban areas will not materialize," said International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. "Forest fires are a risk we tend to associate primarily with Southern Europe, but we are seeing that no country is immune. With risk like this increasing, it makes all the more sense for countries to help each other through the European Union. With the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, we help make sure that mutual assistance gets to where it is needed quickly and efficiently," the Commissioner added.

Several regions in northern Europe are currently facing heat waves which pose forest fire risks. The ERCC is actively monitoring these risks and developments across Europe. It uses national monitoring services and tools such as EFFIS (the European Forest Fire Information System) and satellite imagery to provide an overview of the situation in Europe. Throughout the summer months, it holds a weekly videoconference with national authorities from countries at greatest risk of forest fires.

Background

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-28 plus Iceland, Norway and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism co-ordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

More information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection
Commissioner Georgieva's website
Factsheet on EU Civil Protection

Croatia

Croatia earthquake: EU member states offer further assistance

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Following the initial offers of assistance to Croatia – most of it dispatched in the first 24 hours after the devastating earthquake of 29 December 2020 – EU member states are offering further in-kind assistance. Sleeping bags, housing containers, lighting systems and mattresses, provided by Germany, France and Austria, are on their way to Croatia or will be in the coming days. Slovenia delivered supplementary housing containers to Croatia on 11 January 2021. “Once more, I would like to thank all EU Member States for their prompt response to the earthquake. The overwhelming response of 15 EU member states and one participating state helping the Croatian people in times of need is a tangible example of EU solidarity,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič. In 2020 alone, the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre co-ordinated more than 100 times assistance to countries in Europe and worldwide due to crises.

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Croatia

EU mobilizes emergency assistance for Croatia in the aftermath of devastating earthquake

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated to assist Croatia in the aftermath of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, following a request for assistance from Croatian authorities on 29 December.

European Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica and Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič arrived in Zagreb, Croatia where they met with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. Together with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior Davor Božinović they then visited the hardest hit town, Petrinja.

Commissioner Lenarčič said: "I arrived to Croatia today to assure the Croatian people that the EU stands in full solidarity with them. Our Emergency Response Coordination Centre will continue to mobilise immediate assistance. I am very thankful to countries that have immediately rushed to Croatia's help in these difficult times. My thoughts are with all those affected, especially those who have lost loved ones, and with the brave first responders on the scene who are doing their best to help people in need."

Vice President Šuica added: "2020 has been a very difficult year. As we mourn the dead and plan the reconstruction, we need to also learn lessons to mitigate the impact of these tragedies, where possible. Even though nature cannot be controlled, we can study how and where people live; we need to apply what we are learning in my portfolio on demography to help people to take maximum advantage of the opportunities available to them. At the moment I am developing the commission's vision and work for rural areas, but I am also making preparations to propose initiatives in urban environments. The situation I am witnessing today will inform me in all aspects of my work for the rest on my mandate.”

The earthquake, which hit the central part of the country, has killed several people and caused extensive damage to numerous homes and infrastructure. In an immediate response, the European Commission helped mobilise assistance from various Member States to be dispatched swiftly to the affected areas.

Immediate assistance offered by Austria, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey includes much-needed housing containers, winterised tents, sleeping bags, beds, and electrical heaters.

In addition, the EU's Copernicus emergency management service is helping to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas.

The European Union's 24/7 Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre is in regular contact with Croatian authorities to closely monitor the situation and channel further EU assistance.

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Croatia

Earthquake of magnitude 6.4 strikes near Zagreb, Croatia

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck a town in Croatia today (29 December) and video footage showed people being rescued from rubble. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), write Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Igor Ilic in Zagreb and Ivana Sekularac in Belgrade.

The N1 news channel reported that the epicentre was in the town of Petrinja, 50 kilometers from Croatia’s capital Zagreb. It showed footage of rescuers there pulling out a man and a child from debris. Both were alive.

Other footage showed a house with a roof caved in. The reporter said she did not know if anyone was inside.

There was no further information available on casualties.

The quake could be felt in the capital Zagreb, where people rushed to the streets.

On Monday (28 December) a magnitude 5.2 earthquake hit central Croatia, also near Petrinja. In March, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 hit Zagreb causing one death and injuring 27 people.

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