Avalanche protection experts explore Georgia’s mountainous Murkmeli village (VIDEO)

A view of the village of Murkmeli in Upper Svaneti. Photo: Nika Lebanidze.
Agenda.ge, 30 Mar 2018 - 17:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

A Georgian village of a UNESCO-recognised Svaneti highland province is being studied by engineers and planners from France and Georgia who are developing measures for protecting it against snow avalanches.

Murkmeli, perched some 2,100m above sea level in north-western Georgia’s Caucasus mountain range, became a point of interest for Engineerisk, a consulting company specialising in avalanche protection engineering.

A team from the France-based company has been working with George Gotsiridze, a geographer spatial planner from the GIS and RS consulting center GeoGraphic in Tbilisi, to study the village considered a major cultural heritage site.

Their cooperation for protecting the area also involved Georgian extreme sports enthusiast and cameraman Nika Lebanidze, who filmed parts of Murkmeli representing points of interest for the work group.

Lebanidze’s drone footage of the team’s activity in the village was turned into a short video released by Engineerisk to their social media followers on Thursday.

The video was published with notes from the company that said the aim of the work group was to "evaluate most suitable avalanche protections options” for the site.

The footage shows medieval towers typical of the Upper Svaneti area as well as ruins of residential buildings in the midst of them and immersed in snow.

[T]his site [...] was impacted by several avalanches[,] especially in 1987 with many houses destroyed (ruins still clearly visible) and 7 injuries.”
Fruitful and nice discussions with last inhabitants and their still living reminds of last avalanche events”, said the French company in their summary for the video.

Murkmeli is part of the Upper Svaneti province that has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1996.

The international body has characterised it as "an exceptional example of mountain scenery with medieval-type villages and tower-houses”.

Engineerisk have also worked at other mountainous areas of Georgia including in Tetnuldi, Gudauri and Goderdzi.

They have also been involved in anti-snow avalanche engineering projects in over a dozen other countries.