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Economy Minister Names Culprits for Gudauri Ski-lift Accident

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, March 26
(TBILISI) - The Georgian Economy Minister Dimitri Kumsishvili stated at the end of the last week that that the voltage drop and a mistake made by an operator have led to the Gudauri ski-lift accident on March 16, leaving 11 people injured.

The minister made the statement based on the preliminary report by the international Bureau Veritas’s experts, who have been invited by the Georgian government to investigate the reasons of the malfunction.

“Based on the records from a memory device installed on the equipment, it was determined that on March 16, there was a voltage drop, which stopped the ski-lift. However, after the ski-lift stopped, the operator should have turned on a nearby diesel generator to bring skiers to a point from where they would have been able to get off and vacate the ski-lift”, said Kumsishvili .

The operator has already been dismissed, while the deputy head of the Mountain Resort Development Company and the head of the Gudauri Mountain Management Department have quit posts.

Kumsishvili stated that the Georgian law enforcers continued to investigate the case.

Experts from the Austrian Doppelmayr Garaventa group, which installed the ski-lift in 2007, were also present to carry out their inspection. However, they have not yet presented any results.

The experts of the ski-lift producer that has 14,400 ski-lifts installed worldwide arrived the same day of the incident and stated that they conducted their work years ago in full line with safety standards.

Nearly half of the injured tourists, who were from Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, and Sweden, have been discharged the same day of the incident as they suffered minor or medium injuries.

Only one, Ukrainian tourist was operated on as she suffered from multiple fractions.

The ski-lift on the Sadzele slope of the Georgian, popular, mountain resort of Gudari moved reverse and threw passengers down. Many of the passengers jumped down to avoid a clash.

It has been speculated that the culprit may have been a voltage fluctuation or brake issues.

However, Energo Pro Georgia, a company providing Gudauri with electricity, has many times excluded any power-related flaw, both before and after of Kumsishvili’s statement.