Tbilisi flood toll rises to 19

Tbilisi, June 16 (IANS) Nineteen people have been killed in one of the worst floods to hit Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, the authorities said on Tuesday, a day after freak floods destroyed houses, tore up roads and swept away zoo animals.

The human toll rose to 19 on Tuesday when bodies of a young woman and two men were recovered from flooded Mziuri Park, Georgia’s State Security and Crisis Management Council said, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, six people remained missing after an intense downpour that began late on Saturday turned a river that runs through the capital city into a raging torrent, the council added.

On Tuesday, parliament, in a special session in Kutaisi, unanimously approved presidential decrees authorising the use of armed forces in the flood relief efforts.

As of Tuesday, Heroes Square and the right embankment of the Mtkvari river were reopened for traffic after 24 hours of hard work.

However, incoming heavy rain in Tbilisi late on Tuesday had forced the authorities to suspend clearing works and withdraw workers, volunteers and heavy equipment from the flood-hit areas as a precaution.

Initial estimate of the flooding damage was at $18 million, but Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili warned that the cost would be “quite substantial and may reach 100 million lari (about $45 million)”.

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