The landslide disaster in Dariali Gorge was caused by extreme movements of an icy glacier located high on a mountain peak, experts say.
In a statement today, the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure said the tragedy occurred as a result of intense movement of the Devorak Glacier. The glacier is located on the north-eastern slope of the mount Kazbek at a height of 5,047m.
Seven people are still missing following the landslide.It is believed one million cubic meters of land mass flew into the river during the landslide.
The major slip happened early Saturday 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.
Members of the local population and some environment defence experts believed construction of the Dariali HPP caused the landslide, as the two were in close proximity with each other. However Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and other Georgian officials insisted there was no connection with between the HPP and the landslide, which happened 20km apart.
On the contrary, the PM said the Dariali HPP tunnel helped excess water flow away from the site after the landslide.
Experts who surveyed the site over the past two days said external factors were not believed to be the reason behind the natural disaster.
"As a result of movement in a historic glacier, a mudflow landslide came down and caused damage in the Kazbegi district. The landslide blocked the Terek valley and blocked the road and transport links from the Russian-Georgian border section,” the Ministry statement said.
As for the power plant construction in Dariali valley and its connection with the disaster, specialists believed these two zones were "geologically divergent zones”.
"As a result of glacier layers motion environmental disaster occurred in 2002 and 2007 years”, experts said.
Rescue workers are continuing to search for survivors and victims of the landslide.