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Fire affected vendors in Tbilisi

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 31
The Didube District trade center in Tbilisi, known as Children’s World, and its adjacent shops and a market, were burnt due to an extensive fire which broke out at the territory early morning on January 30, destroying the properties of about 1,000 vendors. The fire also left one fireman with light injuries.

The Emergency Management Service says that in total around 13,000 square meters were burnt and the trade center building will not be useable for the foreseeable future.

Around 30 fire engines tried to extinguish the fire, which badly damaged the building, and one firefighter was injured due to the collapse of the wall.

Some traders, whose shops burnt down during the fire, believe the fire was deliberately set in the trade center. The affected people say they have debts to various banks and ask the government for compensation.

Mayor of Tbilisi Davit Narmania arrived at the site in the morning and spoke to the traders. He says the damage is extensive, and the market administration should take responsibility before the traders who suffered losses.

“The people who worked here have many questions about possible compensation. I think the market administration should answer their questions,” he added, and hoped police would find out the cause of the incident.

Didube district governor Irma Zavradashvili also visited the site and said that the loss caused by the fire is of a very large scale. The governor stressed that the district administration alone will not be able to compensate any losses.

The trade center administration says they cannot compensate the loss, as the safety norms in the building were fully observed.

"Safety norms were observed inside the building. This has not been the first case of a fire in this area and in both cases the causes of fire were unknown,” the administration said, adding they have no funds to issue compensations.

The Chair of Tbilisi City Council, Giorgi Alibegashvili, says the municipality and the government will do their best to assist the affected traders.

It was reported by the media that the building was insured with the Aldagi company.

“Our technical team is at the site, figuring out the details. At this point the calculation of damage is underway and soon the detailed amount will be known,” the company says.

However, the head of the Aldagi Property Claims Management Department, Vakhtang Ebitashvili, stated that only the building, and not the property of the traders, was insured.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into the incident under an article pertaining to the destruction of another's property causing substantial damage.