More than 30 animals including lions, tigers, bears and other wild animals have escaped from a zoo in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Sunday following heavy floods that killed eight people.
As security officials hunt down animals, tranquilising some and shooting others dead, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has urged residents to stay indoors.
Interior ministry spokeswoman Nino Giorgobiani told AFP that, “So far, the confirmed death toll is eight people, but several people are still missing.”
According to AFP, Tbilisi Zoo spokeswoman Mzia Sharashidze told the Inter Press News agency that three bodies were found at the zoo and that two of the dead were employees.
Sharashidze also said that the “Search for animals continues, but a large part of the zoo is simply non-existent. It was turned into a hellish whirlpool.”
“Some 20 wolves, eight lions, white tigers, tigers, jackals, jaguars have either been shot dead by special forces or are missing. Only three out of our 17 penguins were saved,” she said.
As search for the animals is underway, rescue workers are airlifting dozens from flood-affected areas.
Tbilisi’s deputy-mayor, Irakyly Levkinadze estimated the damage at $10 million and said that, “Dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital.”