2 Killed, 50 Injured in Earthquake in Serbia

KRALJEVO, Serbia-- A state of emergency was declared Wednesday in central Serbia after an earthquake rattled the region, killing at least two people and injuring 50 others.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the moderate quake with a 5.3 magnitude struck 75 miles south of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, at 01:56 a.m. Wednesday.

The hardest hit area was around the town of Kraljevo where the trembler destroyed or damaged buildings and left parts of the city without electricity, running water or telephone lines.

Serbia's Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said a couple, both 68, died in a Kraljevo suburb when the roof and the first floor of their house collapsed, while 50 people were injured elsewhere in and around the town.

Serbia's Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic toured the region, meeting the son and the daughter of the victims, promising financial help.

"As far as I understand, many people in the region don't have a place to sleep and they'll have to be placed in collective centers," Cvetkovic told the Associated Press.

Several mostly older buildings in Kraljevo, the town of some 70,000 people, were damaged, including local hospital and the town hall. Several cars were destroyed from falling concrete from the buildings.

"I had a house with a chimney which is now gone," said Milos Vukomanovic, a resident of the Vitanovac village near Kraljevo which was the epicenter of the quake, as he repaired the roof of the building with cracked walls and shattered windows.

The residents of Kraljevo cleared the rubble and assessed the damage from the quake.
"In shops, cafes and houses everything was on the floor this morning," said Marta Jakic, a shop owner.

Numerous aftershocks were felt Wednesday.

"The most important thing is that people calm down, that there is no panic and that the city authorities function," Dacic said in Kraljevo.

The earthquake -- the strongest in Serbia since 2000 -- was also felt in a wider area of the Balkan state including Belgrade where people were jolted from their beds, some fleeing their homes in panic. The trembler was also felt in neighboring Romania, Croatia and Macedonia.