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Miners' Deaths Spark Protests In Georgia

Georgian miners in Tkibuli
Georgian miners in Tkibuli

Protesters in Georgia are calling on the government to improve safety at workplaces after four coal miners plunged to their deaths in a mine shaft.

Hundreds of people demonstrated for a second day in Tbilisi on May 10, demanding a thorough investigation and accusing the authorities of hesitating to establish a labor-inspection agency to prevent deadly workplace accidents.

The miners fell 400 meters to their deaths when an elevator at the Mindeli mine in the central-western city of Tkibuli broke on May 9. Their bodies were recovered on May 10.

Georgia's ombudsman, Ucha Nanuashvili, called the miners' deaths "murder." He accused the government, parliament, and constitutional commission of intentionally blocking the creation of a labor-inspection agency in the South Caucasus state.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili expressed condolences to the miners' relatives and said their deaths were "not an accidental tragedy," adding that "current labor conditions and laws fail to provide safe workplaces in Georgia."

Relations between Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili are badly strained.