Interior Minister speaks on Shovi rescue helicopter operations
Interior Minister speaks on Shovi rescue helicopter operations

Minister of Internal Affairs, Vakhtang Gomelauri spoke about the helicopter operation conducted during the rescue efforts in the disaster zone. He underlined that helicopters are complex machines that require thorough preparation before use.

He highlighted the adverse weather conditions, which led to a delay in helicopter deployment.

“A helicopter arrived in the area in about three hours. A helicopter is not a bicycle or car; it necessitates preparation. Furthermore, the weather was highly unfavorable, with clouds obstructing flight routes for nearly two hours. Eventually, a helicopter was able to land and evacuate 70 individuals,” he stated.

Gomelauri explained that due to the darkness and hazardous flying conditions, further flights were deemed too risky that night. Instead, the following day, successful evacuations were conducted for those who remained in the area.

He added that difficult terrain was one of the reasons why the helicopters could not operate at night.

“When questioned about the decision not to conduct nighttime flights, I’ve reiterated multiple times that aviation experts understand the complexity. We have night flight capabilities. Although there was a very high risk. There was no immediate danger to lives at that time, as individuals were situated in safe locations. However, the risk to pilots was considerable, given the valley’s challenging terrain,” he underscored.

Gomelauri also conveyed that all helicopters were fully operational and highlighted the acquisition of three new helicopters from France, with the first one set to arrive in Georgia by March 2024.