TBILISI (Reuters) - Tigers, lions, bears and wolves were among more than 30 animals that escaped from a Georgian zoo and onto the streets of the capital Tbilisi on Sunday during floods that killed at least 12 people.
Residents were advised to stay indoors until the animals could be captured. Reuters photographs showed a marksman shooting tranquillizer darts at a hippopotamus walking past shops on a mud-soaked street.
Local news agencies later reported more than half the animals had been returned to the zoo. Some were killed by police, including a rare breed of white lion cub and six wolves roaming the grounds of a nearby children’s hospital.
Three zoo workers died, including a woman who was trying to save lions and tigers. Several weeks ago she had lost her arm when a tiger attacked her, according to the reports.
Heavy rains turned the Vere river that flows through Tbilisi into a torrent that washed away buildings, roads and cars.
“Dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital,” deputy mayor Irakly Lekvinadze told reporters.
At least 24 people were still missing and 37 were taken to hospital with injuries, Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri told an emergency government meeting. Monday was declared a day of national mourning.
The estimated damage was up to 40 million lari (18 million), according to the Finance Ministry, and government officials were in touch with international donors to discuss aid.
Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Mark Trevelyan