Published On: Sun, Jun 14th, 2015

Nine Dead, Zoo Animals Loose After Floods

At least nine people have died and a number more are missing after heavy rainfall and floods overnight in Georgia.Heavy rainfall turned the Vere river, which flows through the capital Tbilisi, into a torrent that swept away dozens of buildings and cars.

Nine Dead, Zoo Animals Loose

Animals from the city’s zoo, including tigers, lions, bears and wolves, escaped from cages damaged by the rainfall.

Three zoo workers are among the dead, and 10 more people are missing.

An escaped hippopotamus was cornered in one of the city’s main squares and subdued with a tranquiliser gun.

Some other animals have been located, but it remains unclear how many are on the loose.

Residents are being told to stay inside as zoo workers try to locate them, with helicopters circling the city of around 1.1 million people.

It was not immediately clear if the nine who have been killed died as a result of the flooding or animal attacks.

The zoo said one of those who died was Guliko Chitadze, a zookeeper who lost an arm in an attack by a tiger last month.

A preliminary estimate has put the damages at $10m (£6.4m), according to Irakly Lekvinadze, vice mayor of Tbilisi.

He said: “Dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital.”