Claims people were left without aid in Shovi landslide aftermath “false” - Interior Minister

  • Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri (in the middle) in the disaster zone. Photo: Interior Ministry press office, 14 Aug 2023 - 13:53, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri on Monday rejected claims by the domestic opposition on “delayed and ineffective” response to the landslide that killed 24 in the western resort location of Shovi on August 3 and said “all survivors” had received necessary help in the aftermath of the disaster.

In his press comments from Shovi, the official stressed the authorities had committed high-tech thermal drones to the works on the site, adding helicopter crews operated in the area in the daylight, ensuring discovery and rescue of injured or trapped survivors.

Responding to the allegations on the Government's decision not to use helicopters at night during the efforts, Gomelauri explained while the helicopters were equipped with night lights and could be used in the search efforts, their presence was not necessary due to “high risk” of their safety in nighttime operations.

He also said the “five or six” thermal drones that were used instead could discover survivors in the debris better than the rotary-wing assets. 

Gomelauri added 26 percent of the territory affected by the landslide remained to be inspected, and noted rescuers had recovered a car whose passengers were among the nine individuals still missing. 

Teimuraz Mgebrishvili, the head of the Emergency Management Service, on Monday reiterated the search efforts would continue until the “slightest chance” of finding bodies of victims remained, adding combing through the remaining area of the affected zone in the Oni municipality resort would take about two days. 

Mgebrishvili said about 800 individuals from his body and the country’s Defence Forces had been engaged in search and rescue efforts last week, along with special hardware and necessary transport.