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General Staff explains reasons for non-usage of helicopters at disaster night

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 25
The General Staff of the Ministry of Defense has released a statement about non-use of helicopters on the night of the disaster on June 13, when unprecedented flooding hit Tbilisi, claimed 19 lives and wholly devastated the Tbilisi Zoo area.

According to the statement, at this stage more than 2,500 soldiers and about 90 special vehicles have taken part in the relief effort.

"The Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces acted with one single purpose on the night of 13 June – to prevent further casualties and ensure successful rescue operations.

Tbilisi has a quite complex urban structure and lacks the appropriate warning systems that would ensure safe movement for helicopters,”- the statement reads.

According to the General Staff, the buildings, electricity lines and tall trees in the disaster zones (Svanidze Street, the zoo itself and Mziuri Park areas) make the operation of helicopters impossible.

“Utilizing helicopters in the mentioned conditions could cause loss of the crew and aircraft, which could also result in further loss of life. Therefore, we properly assessed the risks and dangers. Helicopters and unmanned aircraft started monitoring efforts in the disaster affected areas on the next day,"- says the statement.

Currently only the staff of relevant bodies is taking part in the post- flooding clean-up activities.

Rescuers are still search of three people missing after the flood.

According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri. there is little chance the people will be found alive.

Every single family whose house was destroyed in the June 13 flash flood will be given accommodation, Tbilisi Mayor’s Office promises.

Tbilisi vice Mayor Dimitri Kumsishvili said every flood-affected family would be offered a new dwelling based on an assessment of their damaged home and current needs.

The central budget has already allocated 10 million GEL to combat the damage caused by major flooding in the country’s capital.

The government states that the expense caused by the disaster is more than 100 million GEL.