TBILISI (Combined Sources)–Reportedly, four Armenians were killed as a result of heavy flooding in Tbilisi, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports, quoting the Armenian Embassy in Georgia
Three of the four Armenian victims are citizens of Georgia and have been identified as Zhanna Yeghiazarova, Svetlana Yeghiazarova and Liana Yeghiazarova.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian sent a telegram to his Georgian counterpart Giorgi Margvelashvili offering his support to the people of Georgia and extending words of regret to the families and friends of the victims.
Heavy flooding killed at least 12 people on Sunday in the Georgian capital, after heavy overnight rains caused the River Vere – normally little more than a stream – to burst its banks. Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania said the situation was “very grave”.
Thousands of people have been left without water and electricity while others have had to be airlifted to safety. Several main roads have been destroyed while small houses and cars were swept away. Coffins in a city cemetery have reportedly been washed out of the ground and left lying on the mud. Rescue workers are searching submerged homes to check for trapped residents. Dozens have been left homeless.
President Margvelashvili has visited the affected area and extended his condolences to relatives of the victims. Vice Mayor Irakly Lekvinadze estimated the preliminary damage at $10 million.
In addition to the destruction, officials have warned people to stay indoors to avoid animals that have escaped from the Tbilisi Zoo.
The missing animals include tigers, lions, bears and wolves. Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze said that three bodies had been found in the zoo, including those of two employees. She said the grounds had been turned into “a hellish whirlpool”.
20 wolves, eight lions and an unknown number of tigers, jackals, and jaguars had been shot dead by special forces or were missing. The bodies of a lion and a pony lay near the zoo. A hippopotamus was cornered in one of the city’s main squares and subdued with a tranquilizer gun. It remains unclear how many animals are missing. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has called on residents to stay indoors until the animals have been found.
Yerevan has expressed its willingness to provide refuge to the animals left without shelter, Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan said during working consultations at city hall.
Specialists of the Yerevan Zoo left for Tbilisi immediately after the disaster on Sunday to provide assistance to their Georgian counterparts.