Last Updated: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tbilisi flood kills 12 in recent Georgia natural disaster

Heavy flooding in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, has claimed lives of at least 12 people and left 24 others missing.

Floodwaters damaged the city's zoo and set many of the animals free. Tigers, lions, bears, wolves and a hippo escaped their enclosures.

The hippopotamus was tranquilised, but some animals have been killed (reuters photo via BBC)
Rescuers work among debris at a flooded street in Tbilisi, Georgia (Reuters/Irakli Gedenidze)
At least three bodies have been found in the zoo, including those of two employees, BBC has written quoting Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze.

The flooding began when heavy rains caused the River Vere - normally little more than a stream - to burst its banks.

According to Civil Georgia, heavy rain also caused a landslide on the Tskneti-Betania road outside Tbilisi.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has called on residents to stay indoors until the animals have been found. President Giorgi Margvelashvili has visited affected area and extended his condolences to relatives of the victims.

Georgia has declared national mourning on Monday for Tbilisi flood victims.

Reuters mentions:
Local news agencies later reported more than half the animals had been returned to the zoo. Some were killed by police, including a rare breed of white lion cub and six wolves roaming the grounds of a nearby children's hospital.
BBC reports:
It remains unclear how many are animals missing. Helicopters are circling the city as part of a search and rescue operation.
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