Georgia is in mourning following heavy rainfall and flooding which unexpectedly hit the Georgian Capital Tbilisi on Saturday night, leaving many people dead or missing, and which also resulted in considerable material damage. The number of casualties is still not known since dozens of people remain missing, but at least twelve bodies have now been recovered.
Georgians put aside political differences on Sunday to give a helping hand in the rescue operations. The situation was at first complicated because the flooding also resulted in many animals escaping from Tbilisi Zoo, and it was feared that they could be a danger to the public. Most of the animals have now been captured, or where this was not possible, killed. Surreal scenes of roaming bears, tigers and even a crocodile in downtown Tbilisi were broadcast all over the world.
Georgia Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili authorised the release of ten million Georgian Laris (approximately 4.5 million US$) to the Tbilisi Municipality for the emergency response.
Monday has been declared a day of national mourning to honour those who died in the natural disaster.
There have been expressions of solidarity from all over the world, including from neighbouring countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The European Union in a statement said that it was ready to deploy assistance to help Georgia in its hour of need. A statement from the Office of Federica Morgherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy said that the European Union stands in full solidarity with Georgia. The Statement said that the EU's Emergency Response Coordination Centre was closely monitoring the developments and that EU officials were in contact with Georgian authorities and were "ready to deploy assistance to help the country in the aftermath of this disaster that claimed lives, caused severe damage to the infrastructure in the capital and disrupted the basic services in the city".
source: commonspace.eu with agencies.
Ivanishvili, the founder of the Georgian Dream party, the political movement that has led Georgia since 2012, will return to the centre-stage of Georgian politics, assuming the role of party chairman. The move is expected to take place at the party congress on in May.