Tragedy in Tbilisi Vake park
A 13-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in an electrocution incident in Tbilisi’s Vake Park recreational area on October 13. The tragedy caused public outrage in the Georgian capital.
The tragic development follows the incident reported by local media, where three minors were injured after attempting to retrieve a ball that had fallen into the recently renovated fountain in the park. One of the other minors was in critical condition, undergoing treatment under artificial ventilation at the New Hospitals clinic in the city, while the third was hospitalised at the Children’s Central Hospital with minor injuries. Both minors were discharged by October 16.
The Georgian interior ministry has launched an investigation for “breach of safety regulations during the placement, design, construction or other works”. Expressing his “deep sorrow” over the incident, Tbilisi mayor Kakha Kaladze named company Greenservice as a principal contractor in the renovation work of the famous park, with the recreational area reopening to the public on Wednesday.
Kaladze said the work on the infrastructure had been completed “long before” the opening of the park and that “everything had been checked [with the latest check conducted on August 29]”. He said he was “shocked by the tragedy” and promised those responsible would be “strictly punished”. “It is a horrible fact. We are all saddened. An investigation has been launched. All the relevant agencies are involved, and, of course, those responsible will be punished accordingly, within the law,” he said.
On October 17. civil activists and members of the opposition parties’ youth wings organised a protest at Tbilisi City Hall. Protesters argued that Kaladze, among others, should accept responsibility for the Vake Park tragedy. “The whole City Hall and Kaladze’s office are involved in fraudulent dealings and tenders.” Unfortunately, such reckless behaviour has such repercussions,” said Nika Mosiashvili, a Girchi-More Freedom party member.
The second phase of the cascade and fountain renovation in Vake Park was completed on Wednesday, with the city hall spending 6,500,000 GEL (2.3 mil USD) on the project. On October 18, nine people were arrested in connection with the tragedy. Among the arrested was the deputy head of the city environmental service, the heads and employees of the Greenservice and Mshenexpert companies, a representative of New Metal Design LLC, and two electric welders. It is said the list of those accused may be added to.
According to investigators, though repairs on the park’s main fountain had already been officially completed, the deputy head of the city environmental service asked the manager of Greenservice to wrap black water pipes coming out of the electric motor in the fountain with a white stainless structure. Director of “Greenservice” Lasha Purtsvanidze entrusted this task to an employee of subcontracting company “New Metal Design”.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, however, electric welders hired by New Metal Design LLC violated safety standards during the assignment. To fit the stainless metal structure over the water pipes, they removed a metal grill from the electric motor and, when re-attaching, installed electrical wire between the concrete surface and the grill, causing damage to the wire.
Fountain in Tbilisi, Georgia.