Date
23 March 2017
Rescuers guide a hippopotamus out of a flooded street in Tbilisi. Dozens of zoo animals escaped after hours of torrential rain caused the River Vere to burst its banks. Photo: Bloomberg
Rescuers guide a hippopotamus out of a flooded street in Tbilisi. Dozens of zoo animals escaped after hours of torrential rain caused the River Vere to burst its banks. Photo: Bloomberg

Tbilisi floods kill 12, unleash tigers and lions from zoo

Severe flooding that has killed 12 people in the Georgian capital Tbilisi is being blamed for unleashing zoo animals onto the streets, adding to the chaos.

Lions, tigers and a hippopotamus are on the loose after floodwaters swept through the Tbilisi Zoo.

French news agency AFP is reporting that police and soldiers were sent to recapture the animals while rescuers airlifted dozens of people trapped by the flooding.

Tbilisi mayor David Narmania put the death toll at 12 and said infrastructure has been heavily damaged after the River Vere burst its banks from hours of torrential rain.

He urged people to stay indoors while the animals are still at large.

Some have been recaptured while others have been shot dead, AFP says.   

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani told AFP that 24 people are missing while the mayor’s office said dozens of families are without water and electricity.

Mzia Sharashidze, a spokeswoman for the Tbilisi Zoo, was quoted by InterPressNews agency as saying three bodies were found in zoo, two of them workers.

About 20 wolves, eight lions and a number of tigers, jackals and jaguars are either missing or shot dead by soldiers, she said.

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CG/RA

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