Aftershocks in Soviet Georgia; Death Toll Said to Rise to 300
MOSCOW (AP) _ Two aftershocks from a severe earthquake set off landslides Friday that killed at least three people in the mountains of Soviet Georgia.
At least 114 people have died in Monday’s quake and its aftermath, the official Tass news agency reported. The temblor also injured 300, left 70 missing and 67,000 homeless in the southern republic, it said.
An unconfirmed report by Soviet television news said the final toll may reach 300 dead and 1,000 injured.
Friday’s tremors struck in the same remote region as Monday’s quake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale.
Soviet authorities could not provide Richter readings for Friday’s aftershocks. However, in the United States, the National Earthquake Information Center said they must have been aftershocks of less than 5 on the scale because they didn’t show up on its instruments in Golden, Colo.
Ground movement and landslides leveled the already-damaged Caucasus Mountain villages of Chordi, Ire and Tsedisi, said Archil Kostava, the top administrative official in Kutaisi, the closest city to the quake zone.
Kostava said three people died in Chordi, but he had no details. He said most residents had been evacuated after Monday’s quake.
A Georgian government spokeswoman, Chorena Chochua, also said three people were killed. She spoke by telephone from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
A Kutaisi police spokesman, Tamorasz Bluashvili, said the landslides, exacerbated by heavy rains, caused ″huge devastation.″
Remaining residents, including 30 families in Ire, were evacuated Friday, some by helicopter.
The villages are about 75 miles northwest of Tbilisi. Tsedisi borders the South Ossetia region, where violence between ethnic Ossentians and Georgians has claimed more than 50 lives.
Bluashvili and Kostava reported that Ossetians took advantage of the chaos caused by the earthquakes to attack Tsedisi, an ethnic Georgian village, and stole their cattle. The two groups have longstanding land and religious disputes.
The updated death count came from Francois de la Roche, who heads a delegation from the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It was not clear whether the figures included Friday’s three victims.
De la Roche said Monday’s quake destroyed about 95 percent of the buildings in the mountain towns of Sachkere, Oni and Ambrolauri. He said it also disrupted water supplies.
Tass quoted de la Roche as saying the disaster area needed tents, blankets, cargo-lifting machinery, food and medicine. He spoke at a news conference in Tbilisi.
He said Red Cross experts were en route to Georgia to provide help. In Geneva, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal for $1.5 million for victims of Monday’s quake.
The Richter scale is a measure of ground motion as recorded on seismographs. Every increase of one number means a tenfold increase in magnitude.