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Destruction In Gori

RFE/RL Georgian Service correspondent Koba Liklikadze was in the Georgian town of Gori, about 30 kilometers from the border of South Ossetia, as Russian bombs fell on civilian districts. He spoke with local residents fleeing the bombing and captured some scenes of devastation on camera. Click below for a multimedia slideshow from the scene:

Multimedia Report: Destruction In Gori

Liklikadze also filed this report on August 9:
"At 10 a.m., the bombing of Gori resumed. The first bomb fell close to an apartment block under construction near the stadium. The second bomb fell near the entrance to the city.

"My colleagues from Ajara TV and Radio Imedi and I took a car to the entrance of the city. Close to the artillery base [near the city limits], we saw a dreadful sight.

"Apart from the base itself, two apartment blocks were on fire. The yard was full of bodies. There was nobody there besides us, and as we started to film we heard terrible screams from the buildings. At just this moment, one of the buildings was hit again and we ran to the cellar.

"When we emerged, the scene was even worse. There were more people lying on the ground.

"Emergency vehicles and fire trucks arrived on the scene, and bombs fell on other apartment blocks in the area, but as far as I know there were no casualties there, because after the first bombs hit, people ran to the cellars for shelter.

"According to our count, several dozens were killed -- mostly women and among them a lot of elderly women.

"As far as journalists are concerned, we received information that several groups of foreign journalists are trapped in the theater of conflict.

"You can probably hear the emergency vehicles passing by, which are carrying the wounded to Tbilisi, because Gori's hospital is already full."


Liklikadze on August 10:

"In Gori it is quiet. I would describe it as dead silence. The town is empty.

"I can see some people running around, mostly middle-aged men.

"I visited the site where a day earlier the [government] press center was located, but I didn't see anyone there.

"I met with residents of nearby villages that are closer to the conflict zone, and they complained that nobody had thought about setting up provisional shelters for them.

"Even the shops are not open, so that one could at least buy some bread and water.

"The city is unprepared for the challenges that should have been anticipated by a city so close to the conflict zone."


Liklikadze on August 11:
"I am now in Gori's central military hospital. You are hearing some noise now -- these are tanks leaving their positions, according to the cease-fire agreement signed by [French Foreign Minister Bernard] Kouchner and the Georgian government.

"A short time ago, Mr. Kouchner was here. Exactly 10 minutes ago, he and his convoy -- with Red Cross vehicles and Georgian officials --very quickly left the military hospital. He cut short the program of his visit.

"The reason was an incident that happened today while the Georgian president and Kouchner were visiting a site destroyed by the bombing, at that moment an alarm sounded and bombers appeared again.

"After that, Mr. Kouchner arrived at the military hospital, and came to the intensive-care unit to see the wounded -- there were also some there who had been killed in military action. And then the guards told him he had to immediately leave the hospital, because it was possible that the Russian Air Force would attack military sites -- and a military hospital is a military site.

"As he was leaving the hospital, a couple of other journalists and I asked Kouchner about his plans from this point on. He said the hostilities had to cease, and that he is doing everything possible to achieve this. And for this purpose, he is going to Moscow, to meet with the Russian leadership -- so that the cease-fire agreement, which has been signed in Georgia, is accepted also in Russia. These were the last words that Mr. Kouchner's said in the hospital, in Gori.

"Bernard Kouchner also expresses concern about Russian military hardware stationed in Zugdidi, and that one of the reasons, why he wants to arrive in Russia as soon as possible, is that he wants to discuss this issue.