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At least 11 killed after landslide in Georgia

At least 11 people were killed and dozens more were missing after a landslide at a resort town in northwestern Georgia, officials said on Friday.

This aerial photo taken with a drone shows rescue personnel working at the site of a landslide in the western Georgian region of Racha on August 4, 2023. – At least six people have been killed by a landslide in the western Georgian region of Racha, the interior ministry of the Caucasus country told AFP on August 4, 2023. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

At least 11 people were killed and dozens more were missing after a landslide at a resort town in northwestern Georgia, officials said on Friday.

The landslide took place on Thursday in Shovi, a small resort town in Georgia’s mountainous northwest famed for its vast forests and mineral water springs.

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that rescuers were on the scene and that he had called in the army to help with search efforts.

“It is a very difficult situation,” he said. “Let’s wait for the results.”

The health minister said 25 people were still missing.

Images showed rescue workers picking through debris partially buried by earth, while teams worked with their hands and with excavators to shift the soil.

More than two hundred people were evacuated from the area, officials said, as helicopters and rescue dogs were dispatched to help with the search efforts.

Shovi, located in a remote valley about 140 kilometres (87 miles) northwest of the capital Tbilisi, lies on the confluence of two rivers.

The Red Cross said bridges and roads in the area had been destroyed.

– Swept away –

One survivor said she spent two hours half-buried in the landslide.

“We suddenly heard a dreadful rumble, and trees began to fall around us,” Mariam Berianidze, a 25-year-old student told AFP.

She said in an earlier post on social media that she saw three people swept away before her eyes.

“We miraculously survived,” she told AFP.

“I still can’t believe how we made it through”

Merab Gaprindashvili, a geologist from Georgia’s National Environmental Agency, said Thursday’s landslide was caused by a combination of factors and was unlikely to happen again.

“In particular, there are two glaciers in the headwaters of the river, which are intensively melting. This was accompanied by heavy rainfall,” he said in a televised interview.

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