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Two die in bridge collapse

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, June 25
The swelling of the River Gldanula resulted in an accident late on the night on June 23 when the Mtskheta-Tianeti road bridge over the river collapsed, killing two people.

One of the dead was a man driving his grandson across this bridge. Though the driver died the 4-year-old boy was rushed to hospital and his condition stabilised. Zurab Utiashvili, Head of the Special Situations Department of the Ministry of Healthcare, Labour and Social Protection, said that the boy was suffering from after crash shock and has been treated at the Zhvania Paediatric Clinic at the State Medical University.

A pedestrian also died in the bridge collapse and several more injured were taken to various hospitals. According to information released by officials all funeral and treatment expenses will be covered by Tbilisi City Hall.

Georgian company Bedeki is responsible for the safety of the bridge, Giorgi Tsereteli, Deputy Chair of the Road Department, told the media, stressing that the company has periodically conducted road rehabilitation activities having won a tender to do so. However he couldn’t say exactly how much money had been spent on the road in recent years.

“A special commission is trying to discover why the the road bridge collapsed after the river rose due to heavy rain in the district. Unfortunately the two men who died were the victims of curiosity, having stopped to have a look at the unbelievably high waves,” Tsereteli told The Messenger, stressing that it may take engineers a couple of months to fully rebuild the bridge but drivers will be able to to use some other routes until then.

The residents of the village of Gldani have been affected by the bridge collapse because it was their only link with the capital. They described the terror of the flood, which took away several cattle, for representatives of City Hall and the regional Governor. Marina Mezurnishvili who lives near the village said that her grandson had been on the bridge a few hours before. “Everything began at about 5 p.m. on June 23 when the heavy rain swelled the river. My grandson told me the flood was making such a terrible noise, like the roar of the ocean, and the police were controlling the road. They initialy prevented him from passing but when my grandson explained them that he had no other place to go they helped him safely cross the bridge,” Mezurnishvili told The Messenger.

Nodar Sandukhadze, Governor of the Gldani-Nadzaladevi region, stressed that remedial work is already underway at the site of the accident. The remains of the bridge will be removed and a new pier designed. “The bridge, 300-400 metres long and 15-18 metres high, was built in 1981-82 but unfortunately I do not know whether it had been technically examined since then,” said the Governor. However workers at the site recalled that a suspicious chief engineer had been arrested just after the bridge opened, though they could not remember his name.

The swollen river also damaged private homes and crops in the Avchala district and the families there are in need of the temporary shelter. Parts of Gldani and Lilo are under water due to the heavy rain. Svetlana Nioradze, Head of the Weather Forecast Bureau of the National Environment Agency, explained to The Messenger that the unpleasant changes in the weather have been caused by humidity which gathered in the clouds during the heat which is pouring out whenever it can. “The rivers in the west and the smaller rivers and dry ravines in the east will reach alarming levels on June 25. June 26 and 27 will be rainy with some thunder, but gradually the sun will come out throughout the country and it will be around 36 degrees on 29-30,” Nioradze told us. Meteorologists claim such weather changes are natural in Georgia at this time of year.