13 April 2024,   16:24
Conclusion on Shovi tragedy - the document, developed together with Swiss experts, reads that it was impossible to predict the disaster in Racha

The Chairperson of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee held a briefing concerning the false narratives about the Shovi tragedy. According to Maia Bitadze, the National Environment Agency [NEA], in view to give comprehensive answers to all the questions of our society, engaged Swiss experts with years-long experience in the assessment of similar natural disasters throughout Europe.

The Swiss specialists, by means of high-tech devices, inspected and verified the data obtained and processed by the NEA and confirmed all key aspects provided in the initial conclusion, thus, giving answers to all questions.

Maia Bitadze outlined all the issues that fell subject to ungrounded positions. According to her, the opinion issued by Swiss experts evidences that no long-term stemming of water in the River Bubustskali basin was registered before the disaster, which is as well confirmed by the satellite photos taken 3 hours prior to the avalanche, as well as the data provided by the hydrological plant at the River Chanchakhi (at the mouth of River Rioni).

The conclusion by the international experts provides an intensive melting of the glacier due to climate change as a reason for the flood, which entailed the avalanche of massive rocks and soil of up to 1000000 m3 at the source of the Buba glacier, causing the formation of the flood and mudslide of 4000000 m3.

Another issue underlined by Bitadze concerned the misinformation about illegal logging as one of the reasons for the disaster. According to her, the conclusion of Swiss experts provides nothing about these insinuations, especially since there is no forest area in the territory.

“Rumors say that the availability of the capital protective structure would allegedly shield the territory from the devastating mudslide. As the document provides, the construction of protective structures in the gorges of such type can in no case retain the wide-scale natural disasters. The best and the most effective way worldwide for the protection of people and premises is proper spatial planning. The allegations also inform that the existing alarm system would help in preventing the tragedy. In fact, the conclusion underlines that even in the event of the availability of the best and most modern alarm systems, warning time is minor and cannot ensure timely evacuation of the population from the disaster zone and even from the adjacent areas”.

She overviewed the recommendations issued by Swiss experts about the necessity of the assessment of the risks/threats to the settlements and infrastructure below the glaciers, identification of the habituated areas within the risk zone and the issue of the initial recommendations.

“Besides, based on an in-depth survey, we may use monitoring and warning systems in certain cases. As the experts recommend, no any new infrastructure shall be arranged in Bubustskali Gorge (26 hectares) and no existing premises shall operate. Besides, the movement regulations shall be developed for the hereof gorge and Shovi resort disaster zone with respective warning signs”, - she added.