Eight killed in Tbilisi flood, zoo animals roam streets

Tbilisi (IANS) Eight people were killed as floodwaters ravaged the Georgia capital on Sunday, media reports said. About half of the city zoo’s 600 animals, including wolves, bears and big cats, went missing, while a crocodile and a hippopotamus were seen roaming about on the streets.

Two employees of the zoo were among those dead.

Citing news agency civil.ge, CNN said raging floodwaters damaged the zoo and set many of the animals free.

Videos showed a crocodile slithering down the city streets, and a hippopotamus “standing around looking confused”, the report said.

The Tbilisi zoo authorities said of the zoo’s 600 residents, including fish and birds, about half were missing on Sunday. Some animals have been recaptured.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili asked people to stay at home while the animals are rounded up.

The ministry of internal affairs also urged everyone to stay indoors but said in a statement that the situation was “under full control”, CNN reported.

Heavy rainfall before Saturday midnight flooded the Vere river, that runs through the centre of Tbilisi, the media report said.

The river flooded many parts of a highway, swept away cars and flooded many homes.

The CNN report said images on Tbilisi City Hall’s Facebook page showed roads washed out, hillsides collapsed and vehicles tossed about like toys.

Rescue workers carried people on their shoulders through waist-high water.

A police helicopter evacuated 16 people from Akhaldaba, near Tbilisi, where heavy rain damaged roads.

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