Environment Minister: reports show 2023 Shovi resort, 2024 Nergeeti landslides caused by climate change

Georgian Environment Minister Otar Shamugia on Friday said the two major landslides in the west of the country had been caused by climate change. Photo: Ministry of Environmental Protection

Agenda.ge, 16 Feb 2024 - 18:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Environment Minister Otar Shamugia on Friday said the two major landslides in the west of the country, which hit the Shovi resort last year and the village of Nergeeti earlier this month had been caused by climate change, in comments while presenting the National Environment Agency’s concluding report on the subject.

The reports come after controversies in the public on the origins of the landslides and whether state agencies had failed to foresee them, with the 2023 landslide killing at least 29 people and the February natural disaster taking the lives of nine.

Shamugia said the Agency had dispatched six teams of geologists and hydrologists to Shovi resort to study the situation and prepare the report, while also signing an agreement with the Swiss company Geotesti to study the collected evidence.

The Swiss specialists confirmed a sliding of land masses and no water swelling in the Bubistskali gorge, and the duration of the land mass movement, which was measured at 7.5-10 minutes. Based on the conclusion, climate change caused the disaster”, the Minister said.

He added the Swiss experts had recommended development of new traffic rules and installation of warning signs in Bubistskali gorge and Shovi resort. He added carrying out “capital protection measures” for “processes of this scale” was “impossible”, and added the invited professionals had recommended development of a “spacious planning for the territory.

As for the landslide in Nergeeti village, Shamugia said snow melting and heavy rains had triggered the landslide processes. 

In three days, 46 percent of the normal monthly rainfall arrived, which is a very high indicator for this period of time. The landslide completely destroyed four residential houses and there were human casualties”, he said, adding the geologists dispatched to the disaster site had recommended resettlement of seven families.

In related comment,s the Minister said 245 hydro meteorological stations would operate across Georgia by late 2024 through an increased budget of ₾13 million ($4.90mln) to the Agency.

Shamugia added monitoring was continuing at 18 landslide active zones, and the number of monitored territories would increase to 29 by late 2024.