Interior Minister clarifies helicopter and drone operations in Shovi landslide zone
Interior Minister clarifies helicopter and drone operations in Shovi landslide zone

Vakhtang Gomelauri, the Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs, provided additional clarification regarding the helicopter operation and drone use during disaster relief efforts in the Shovi landslide-affected area.

Gomelauri reaffirmed that helicopters equipped with night vision capabilities were deployed during daylight hours to ensure the safe withdrawal of approximately 70 individuals inside the disaster zone on an ‘island’.

He underscored that this operation was carried out during the daytime, and the drones employed their night vision technology for monitoring during the nighttime.

“I think I explained it clearly yesterday. The helicopters that we have are equipped with night vision equipment. They can use night vision to fly over plains or mountainous places and so on,” he stressed.

Gomelauri categorically dismissed claims suggesting that someone might have been left behind in the disaster zone, requiring assistance that couldn’t be rendered due to the helicopter’s inability to fly at night.

“If a rescue operation was necessary at night, the pilots could perform evacuation, despite potential risks,” he emphasized.

He reiterated that there was no need to take unnecessary risks by attempting a nighttime helicopter evacuation.

The Minister highlighted the effectiveness of drones in executing such operations.

“The effectiveness of drones equipped with thermal technology is high. These drones were crucial for identifying and assisting individuals at night, using low and high altitudes for thorough monitoring. No injured persons were left behind,” he said.

Gomelauri emphasized that the rescue decisions made were based on safety considerations.

“Our rescuers and police officers accompanied nearly 140 individuals on the slope, providing them with necessary provisions, including food, water, and tents. They were secure. It was not deemed necessary to take the risk of transporting individuals, especially children, by helicopter during the night,” Gomelauri concluded.