Rescue operation continues after landslide in Dariali

Recovery-cleaning works in the area are going to begin after conclusion of geologists will be provided., 18 May 2014 - 14:40, Tbilisi,Georgia

Rescue workers are continuing to search for survivors and victims of a devastating landslide in Dariali valley.

Search and rescue teams worked through Saturday night and all day today to clear debris from Tergi river in Dariali valley.

It is believed one million cubic meters of land mass flew into the river during the landslide.

The major slip happened early yesterday morning near Gveleti village, 20km away from where the Dariali Hydro Power Plant (HPP) is currently being built in northern Georgia, near the Russian border.

Sixteen drivers – all foreign citizens – have been relocated to the Vladikavkaz border following the landslide.

It has been reported Russia has opened its previously closed border crossings and drivers passing through Georgia are able to pass through this border.

Local authorities said all foreign citizens stuck as a result of the landslide had been moved to Stepantsminda by aircraft last night, and are currently waiting at the border there.

To date 205 people located in the landslide zone have been evacuated by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs rescue team.

Two foreign citizens were transferred to a Tbilisi hospital after suffering various injuries, including fractured bones however one, a Ukrainian citizen, died this morning. A doctor at Gudushauri Clinic said the Ukranian patient suffered from long pressure syndrome and multiple organ failure.

Meanwhile recovery and cleaning work in the affected area will begin once geologists survey the site and decide if there is a threat of future landslides.

Today, the Revenue Service of Georgia said the Customs Checkpoint in Kazbegi had stopped working to prevent possible danger towards Customs officers, vehicles and people moving in the direction of the Russian border.

It is believed one million cubic meters of land mass slipped down the mountainside and into Tergi river in Dariali valley.

"Currently there is no threat of this kind of danger [happening again] since the retained water is down a few miles and the river has started flowing,” Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze told journalists from the site today.

Some speculated that the construction of the Dariali HPP caused the landslide, as the two were in close proximity with each other. However Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili insisted there was no connection with between the HPP and the landslide, which happened 20km apart.

In the contrary, the PM said the Dariali HPP tunnel helped the excess water flow away from the site.

"This saved us from an even larger catastrophe,” the PM said today from Mukhuri village, where construction on the Khobi 2 Hydro Power Plant is set to begin in the near future.