Second landslide in central Georgia blocks main highway

Road cleaning work at Rikoti tunnel. Photo by, 13 Jun 2014 - 12:18, Tbilisi,Georgia

Motorists wanting to travel across the country are having to find an alternative route after two landslides blocked a major highway in central Georgian.

Heavy rain yesterday afternoon was believed to be the reason behind a landslide near Rikoti tunnel. In the early hours of this morning a second landslide struck the same spot.

The road is one of Georgia’s main highways and connects the eastern parts of the country with the west.

Officials said debris from the two landslides blocked the Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze main highway. Traffic is currently restricted from travelling along this road.

In the first landslip, experts estimated around 2,000 cubic metres of mountain rock collapsed onto the road.

Road cleaning works went to the site immediately after yesterday’s landslide and work resumed this morning however heavy rain has halted the cleaning mission.

Georgia’s Department of Roads said because of the heavy rain, there was still a chance of further landslips.

Vehicles, except for trailers and semi-trailers, are able to travel along the bypass road of Gomi- Satchkhere- Chiatura-Zestafoni, the Roads Department said.

Georgian Railway has put on a free service for passengers wishing to travel from the capital city to Batumi area. The train will depart Central Station in Tbilisi, bound for Makhinjauri, at 9pm tonight.

Georgian Railway administration believed transport by train would be safer than along the weather-damaged roads.

Today, the wild weather is moving across the country and causing chaos in Georgia’s western regions. Forecasters warned people in west Georgia to be aware of heavy rain, which is forecast to batter the region for the rest of the day. Rain has already begun to fall heavily in Guria region.

To combat the possible effects of the heavy rain, a dam has been opened at Supsa River to allow the excess water to flow through. Furthermore, about 70 private properties in Lanchkhuti are flooded, said the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The Ministry confirmed corn fields and drainage channels had been destroyed in the disaster area.

Small landslips have fallen onto several sections roads in Ozurgeti, Lanchkhuti and Chokhatauri municipalities in Guria.

The Ministry are ready to clean up after the storm but must wait until the weather eases before work can begin.

Bad weather in the past few days devastated the crops, orchards and farming land in Georgia’s eastern regions.

Large hail inflicted serious damage in Tetritskharo and Tsalka municipality villages.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Long-term Forecast Bureau said the weather would improve across the country from tomorrow, June 14, when temperatures will increase and the country will experience sunny days.