The Slovenia Times

120 Years Since Earthquake that Redefined Ljubljana


Ljubljana, then the capital of Carniola within the Austro-Hungarian Epire, struck at 11.17 PM on Easter Sunday, with the epicentre located some 20 km north of the city.

According to Ina Cecić of the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO), new estimates put the number of direct deaths to 21. In addition, two people died during recovery and clean-up operations and three children died in freezing conditions in an emergency shelter.

Cecić pointed to the solidarity displayed in the wake of the disaster, as "the political split between the Slovenian part and the German part...disappeared, innkeepers helped provide solace with liqueurs, while the coatmaker distributed all of the coats in his workshop among those in need of clothing".

Of the 1,373 buildings that Ljubljana had at the time, 145 were damaged beyond repair. Rules were adopted requiring wider streets and historians are of one mind that only after the earthquake Ljubljana started developing into what it is today.

The head of ARSO's seismology department Andrej Gosar agrees that it had been the earthquake that started changing the relatively small town with a population of 32,000 into "the beautiful city we have today".

The tragedy also contributed to the development of seismology in Slovenia, prompting the monarchy to establish the Austrian Earthquakes Commission, which had more then 17,000 observers across all 16 crown lands reporting on tremors.

Other natural disasters are much more common in Slovenia than earthquakes. The country is considered moderately vulnerable, with the most earthquake-prone areas being the western Posočje region, the broader Ljubljana area and the area around the eastern town of Brežice.

Around 25,000 earthquakes were recorded by Slovenian seismologists in the last 10 years, while people felt significantly fewer, about one a week on average, Gosar said.


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