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Fatal flooding in Rikoti while rain damage affects whole country

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, June 20
On Saturday night four people died and two are missing after serious flooding during a two-hour deluge at Rikoti Pass linking eastern and western parts of Georgia. The water damaged the main road of the tunnel while the swollen rivers submerged the highway and destroyed a restaurant. Tragically, landslides then trapped the passing cars in a terrifying and fatal evening. Nika Gilauri Georgian Prime Minister and Ramaz Nikolaishvili Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure arrived at the site to assess the situation and make sure that all the necessary machinery was being made available for the recovery effort.

The situation is still dangerous at Rikoti. According to the information of the Ministry of Regional Development the level of the swollen river remains the same preventing the full restoration of the road. Expressing the readiness of the rescue teams, the Minister worried of the hard conditions at Rikoti and hoped that improved weather in Georgia would assist in repairing the collapsed motorway. Having consulted with the other Governmental officials the Ministries worked out an alternative path for traffic movement through Chiatura-Sachkhere motorway while Rikoti remains unsafe due to potential further landslides.

Extreme weather in Georgian regions damaged houses and roads of local dwellers. After heavy rain on Tuesday night most parts of the country faced very serious natural dangers. Several villages in Kakheti, Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Shida Kartli and Kvemo Kartli were affected by terrible rain. Alaverdi monastery in Kakheti was also under threat as the river Chabinaantkhevi ran straight down to the monastery fence. People were left with no drinking water, gas and electricity while they also lost their poultry, agricultural lands and their homes were flooded. Worrying that they had never seen such heavy rain in their lives, people affected by the flooding remained isolated from the rest of the region as the ferocious rivers demolished bridges and flooded roads.

A landslide fell on the 10th kilometer of Tianeti-Tbilisi highway in east-central Georgia. The rain drenched slopes of the mountains and brought a large amount of soil on to the highway. The rescue operation started soon after the incident but the repeated landslide still hinders traffic movement. Administrators of the affected regions are being mobilized across the regions. Hesitating to name the exact cost of the damage, the authorities explained that the special commission would work on this issue and later reveal the entire scale of the damage.

Extreme weather also affected the outskirts of the capital. The heavy rain flooded ground floors of houses in Mukhiani and Gldani settlements. Locals of the village of Giorgitsminda as well as IDPs from Abkhazia living in Avchala district also suffered from the heavy rains. The suburbs were practically disconnected from the rest of Tbilisi as roads to the area were badly damaged. The rescue teams of Tbilisi City Hall together with the emergencies brigades were however on hand to provide the necessary assistance.

The Ministry of Regional Development with support of Georgian Roads Department continues to repair the damaged roads all around the country. Unfortunately the weather forecasters foresee unstable weather with heavy rain again forecast especially in western Georgia. The temperature in western regions will range from 22-27, while in eastern parts the temperature will be around 23-28.