Teimuraz Mgebrishvili, the head of the Emergency Management Service of Georgia, on Thursday said the Government had used “all resources available” and ensured “far more than reasonable effort” to respond to the landslide in the country’s western Shovi resort last week that killed 21 people.
In a press briefing, the official stressed the authorities had ensured “more than required” numbers of human resources, special hardware and transport in the efforts in Oni Municipality of the Racha region following the landslide last Thursday.
He added more than 800 professionals from his body and the country’s Defence Forces had been engaged in the ongoing search and rescue operation.
In response to any incidents, we have a calculation for the worst scenario. We have done our utmost since receiving the notification about the disaster”, Mgebrishvili claimed.
He said three helicopter crews had been instructed to fly to the disaster zone after being notified of the landslide - two from the capital of Tbilisi, and one from the nearby city of Kutaisi in Western Georgia - and added the latter was unable to complete the task due to weather conditions.
The first helicopter from Tbilisi arrived at the site in “less than three hours” and brought two pieces of special hardware, he said, before making a “dangerous landing” near the Sunset Shovi hotel in “complicated meteorological conditions” to evacuate the first 70 individuals stranded in the locality after the landslide hit accommodation facilities in the resort.
Thermal drones were operated throughout the night, while involvement of aviation in the search operation was impossible due to safety risks - a very complicated terrain and high-voltage wires”, Mgebrishvili said, adding “intensive” search efforts were still being conducted on 10 locations.
He noted several missing individuals had been discovered with the help of thermal drones on Thursday and early on Friday, with “correct estimations” by state agencies ensuring no additional casualties following the disaster.
The official explained his office had “sufficient, reasonable stocks” of special equipment for its personnel - including clothing, boots, shoes, fireproof uniforms, minor and heavy equipment.
When it becomes necessary to use reserves, the body ensures emergency procurements to fill the stocks”, he said.
He stressed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and the country’s Interior Ministry had decided to continue the search efforts for missing individuals “as long as there is even the slightest chance” to find their bodies.
Nineteen of the 21 recovered bodies have been identified, with at least 12 individuals still missing, local authorities told the media on Thursday.