Subscribe

Tbilisi flood: Zoo animals still loose in Georgia capital (+video)

Heavy flooding in Tbilisi Sunday left possibly a dozen people dead and escaped zoo animals roaming the streets.

Lions, tigers, and bears, indeed.

Massive flooding in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, on Sunday set loose about half of the residents of the city zoo, among them big cats, wolves, hyenas, and a hippopotamus, multiple news agencies have reported. Up to 12 people may have been killed, three of whom were found in the zoo, and several have been reported missing. None of the reports so far have indicated that any casualties were due to animal attacks, however.

The floods came after heavy rainfall, which began before midnight Saturday, caused the local Vere river to swell and burst, flowing into parts of a highway and sweeping away cars and at least one structure.

Recommended: Family Emergency Preparedness: Five tips to be ready

The Tbilisi Zoo sits along the banks of the Vere.

“The situation is rather difficult,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said, according to The Washington Post. “We haven’t seen anything like this in Tbilisi before.”

Photos and video circulating in social media showed a lion roaming the city, as well as an alligator slinking down a flooded street. A hippo, which has since been tranquilized, was also spotted in one of the city’s main plazas.

Some of the animals, including a bear, a hyena, and six wolves found on the grounds of children’s hospital, were killed when they couldn’t be captured, according to The New York Times. Some residents protested the killings, but officials said the animals were too aggressive to be secured, the Times reported.

A full tally of the animals still loose was not immediately possible because large parts of the zoo remain underwater, the Associated Press reported.

“Not all the animals who ran away from the zoo have been captured." Tbilisi mayor David Narmania said, according to the AP.

“Therefore, I want to ask the populace to refrain from moving about the city” unless absolutely necessary, he said. Among those missing were 20 wolves, eight lions, and several jaguars and tigers, the Times reported. 

The flood has left thousands of people without water or electricity, dozens of families homeless, and at least 36 people injured, a local news agency, Agenda, reported. Preliminary estimates put the damages at $40 million.

Rescue efforts have been underway since early Sunday morning. Photos on Tbilisi City Hall’s Facebook page show rescue workers carrying civilians through muddy waters and pulling partly-submerged cars out of the muck. Police also airlifted 16 people out of Akhaldaba, west of Tbilisi, where rains led to damaged roads and a major landslide, according to Agenda.

Mayor Narmania has called on Tbilisi residents to help with cleanup operations in the city, while the prime minister has declared June 15 a day of mourning for the flood victims. 

President Giorgi Margvelashvili has also expressed condolences to the victims' families, visiting the parts of the city worst hit by the floods.

“It is a great tragedy when you lose a family member,” he said at a press conference. “The streets will be cleared. Everything will be restored. But unfortunately, it is impossible to return the people who fell victim to the elements.”

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK