Flooding kills 5, sets zoo animals free in Georgia

Flooding left five people dead and several others missing Sunday in the Georgia capital of Tbilisi, according to a news agency funded by the European Union and the United Nations.

The city’s zoo was also flooded. Wolves, bears, big cats and even a hippopotamus escaped and have been roaming parts of the city.

Some animals have been re-captured and others killed, according to the news agency, Civil.ge.

Officials are still searching for escaped animals. Georgia’s Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, asked residents to stay home while the creatures are rounded up.

The flooding was centered in the Vake and Saburtalo neighborhoods. Heavy rain started just before midnight, and water poured into what is normally a small waterway that runs through both districts.

The swollen waterway flooded a large portion of major highway in Tbilisi, sweeping away cars and at least one structure, according to the news agency. Flooding has also extended to parts of the Kura River (also known as the Mtkvari).

Images on Tbilisi City Hall’s Facebook page showed roads washed away, collapsed hillsides and multiple vehicles tossed like toys. Rescue workers carried people on their shoulders through water that was up to the waist.

The country’s Secretary of State Security and the Crisis Management council, Mindia Janelidze, warned residents not to use their cars Sunday, as many main roads will remain closed.

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