14 Jun 2015

At least twelve dead in Georgia flooding, zoo animals escape

Severe flooding in the Georgian capital city Tbilisi has killed at least twelve people and 24 people are reported missing. Many of the city’s zoo animals have escaped or been killed.

It is estimate that the floods have killed at least 12 people and two dozen people have been reported missing.

Heavy rainfall caused the river Vere, which flows through Tbilisi, to flood and sweep away buildings, cards and damage roads.

Tigers, lions, wolves are believed to have also escaped damaged cages in the zoo. Some animals have been captured or killed but many are still roaming free.

A hippopotamus was seen in the street and was later tranquilized and taken away. A bear was filmed clinging to a building to avoid the waters below.

At least 30 animals have escaped and residents have been advised to stay indoors. Footage from the zoo shows at several animals, including a tiger, lying dead in the mud. Three zoo workers died, including one woman who was trying to save lions and tigers.

In the city, houses and tower blocks were perched perilously close to river banks that were still collapsing into the river.

“Dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital,” deputy mayor Irakly Lekvinadze told reporters.

Emergency services were forced to use rafts to navigate the city’s streets in order to reach stranded residents and are now searching for bodies in the mud.

Tbilisi officials said dozens of families are now homeless and a preliminary estimate has put the damage at $18m.