Powerful hailstorm devastates crops, infrastructure in eastern Kakheti villages

Georgia's Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia said the anti-hail device had mitigated the effects of hail in some other villages. Photo by Kakheti Information Centre.
Agenda.ge, 21 Aug 2015 - 13:20, Tbilisi,Georgia

A powerful hailstorm that locals say is the worst in 100 years has caused major damage to infrastructure and devastated harvests in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti villages.

The powerful storm hit Georgia’s eastern area yesterday and seriously damaged several villages in Kvareli and Lagodekhi regions as well as in the eastern Pankisi Gorge village Jokolo. 

As well as hail, strong wind and heavy rain lashed at the region, causing houses to flood and killing birds and cattle. The turbulent weather also caused a landslide in eastern Akhmeta region, destroyed harvest and closed several roads. 

A tree was uprooted and smashed into a car in Kvareli village; the driver of the vehicle was unhurt in the incident. 

Locals stressed that they had not witnessed such a "terrible” natural disaster in the past 100 years.

Sanavardo village in Kvareli region was particularly affected; this area suffered immense damage to local infrastructure and harvests were completely destroyed.

Nearly the same situation was detected in Lagodekhi and Jokolo, local authorities said. 

 A farmer looks at his devastated harvest. Photo by Information Center of Kakheti. 

Officials stressed the damage could reach several million GEL and the local government would be unable to cover this cost without the support of the central Government.

Georgia’s Prime Minister said relevant bodies and services of the central Government were "actively involved” in the clean-up efforts in the east.

Georgia’s Minister of Agriculture Otar Danelia visited the affected regions today. He said a special commission had been established and were tasked with counting the loss caused by the natural disaster.

Danelia said the special anti-hail device was active yesterday and up to 50 shells were shot to mitigate the disaster however hail had already formed in the clouds when it moved over Georgian territory and specialists’ efforts had failed.

The anti-hail devices worked to dramatically reduce crop damage caused by hail storms, reduce the size of the hail or change them into raindrops by dispersing a special reagent (silver iodide) in the clouds before the hailstones formed.

Meanwhile the Lagodekhi-Kvareli main highway was closed yesterday due to flooding but this section of the road has since been reopened, said the Ministry of Infrastructure. The Tusheti-Abano-Omalo mountain road section still remained closed following the disaster.  

Infrastructure Ministry officials said cleaning works had begun at the road and would continue today.