4 Armenians Among Georgia Flood Victims

Four members of an ethnic Armenian family in Tbilisi are among at least 12 people killed in flooding that wreaked havoc on Georgia’s capital at the weekend, Armenia’s government said on Monday.

A senior official at the Armenian Ministry of Local Government and Emergency Situations , Hovannes Khangeldian, said the bodies of the four women, all of them Georgian nationals, were discovered on Monday morning. “The precise circumstances of their death are not yet clear,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

About a dozen Georgians remained missing one day after deadly floods swept away dozens of buildings and cars and devastated Tbilisi’s zoo. Georgia observed a day of mourning for the 12 people already confirmed dead as search and rescue operations continued.

Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian expressed Armenia’s readiness to help Georgia deal with the consequences of the calamity when he phoned his Georgian counterpart Irakli Gharibashvili on Sunday. Armenian Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Yeritsian reaffirmed this offer in a phone call with his Georgian opposite number.

Khangeldian, who runs the National Center for Crisis Management at Yeritsian’s ministry, said the Armenian side specifically offered to send rescue teams to Tbilisi. “[The Georgian authorities] have replied that there is no need for any assistance yet,” the official said.

The floods also allowed tigers, lions, wolves, and other animals to escape from Tbilisi’s zoo. Some of the animals were killed by the floodwaters, some were shot by police, and others were captured and returned to their cages. Authorities asked city residents to stay indoors until all the animals are rounded up.

According to a spokesman for Yerevan’s Mayor Taron Markarian, four employees of the Armenian capital’s zoo were dispatched to Tbilisi to help their Georgian colleagues track down and save the missing animals. He said they will also communicate to relevant Georgian authorities Markarian’s proposal to temporarily shelter surviving animals at Yerevan’s recently renovated zoo.