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Georgia Mourns Flood Victims; Searches For Missing

  • RFE/RL's Georgian Service

TBILISI -- At least 10 Georgians remain missing one day after deadly flooding swept away dozens of buildings and cars and devastated Tbilisi's zoo.

The country is observing a day of mourning for the 12 people already confirmed dead, and search and rescue operations continue.

National flags across the country are at half-staff.

Heavy rains started late on June 13, bloating the Vere River until a torrent raged through the capital.

Thirty-seven people have sought medical treatment, including one who is said to be in serious condition and three others who remain hospitalized.

The flooding allowed tigers, lions, wolves, and other animals to escape from the city'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 were rounded up.

PHOTO GALLERY: Tbilisi Flash Flood Causes Havoc

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili vowed at an emergency session of the cabinet on June 14 that the government would assist every family affected by the floods.

Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri offered a rough preliminary estimate of the damages of around 40 million laris (almost $18 million).

The European Union (EU) issued a statement saying it was "ready to deploy assistance to help the country in the aftermath of this disaster."

"The European Union stands in full solidarity with Georgia in this hour of need. Our thoughts are with the victims and those who are affected by the deadly floods in Tbilisi caused by the heavy rainfalls that hit the country over the past two days," a spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

Garibashvili said at the cabinet session that his Latvian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, and Ukrainian counterparts had expressed their countries' readiness to help Georgia deal with the floods' consequences.

Garibashvili added that Georgia was capable of recovering on its own but might need financial aid from abroad.

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