Flooded homes and cars in Alaverdi, May 26, 2024.

Flooding in Northern Provinces of Lori and Tavush Lead to 4 Deaths

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YEREVAN (Armenpress/Azatutyun) — The Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that due to floods in the northern provinces of Lori and Tavush, four persons were confirmed dead as of May 26.

They are Avag Avagyan, Saribek Balyan, Gnel Zakaryan and Gagik Nazlukhanyan.

The Ministry noted on May 27 rescue operations were restarted. A total of 75 rescuers, 13 combat units, and 3 operative groups from the Ministry of Internal Affairs went to the region.

According to the operational situation, the search and rescue and urgent emergency rehabilitation works are continuing, as a result of which rescuers and other involved forces rescued and evacuated 429 people from different settlements in Lori and Tavush regions, namely, 387 people in Lori region, 42 people in Tavush region.

Currently, the evacuation of the residents of the Sanahin Station settlement, the drainage of water from the basements of the flooded buildings, as well as the removal of the blocked truck in the Haghpat settlement are being carried out.

Homes were washed away by the rushing waters.

Several settlements in Armenia’s northern Lori province remained cut off from the outside world on Monday more than 24 hours after the country’s worst flooding in decades that killed four people and caused extensive damage to local infrastructure.

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Due to heavy rainfall, rivers flowing through Lori and neighboring Tavush province burst their banks early on Sunday, washing away roads, bridges and parts of a railway and flooding towns and villages located along them. The National Rescue Service evacuated 429 local residents.

According to Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan, some 5,500 other people remained stranded in Akhtala, a mining town close to the Georgian border, and several nearby villages. Rescuers supplied them with food and drinking water for the second consecutive day.

The Akhtala area was cut off because the floods left a bridge on the sole road connecting it to the provincial capital Vanadzor under water. Sanosyan said authorities on the ground are scrambling to build a bypass road.

“We have a total of 14 damaged bridges,” Sanosyan said during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s video conference with members of a task force coordinating the Armenian government’s response to the calamity.

The floods also seriously damaged the two national highways leading to Armenia’s main border crossing with Georgia. The damage was particularly severe to the M6 highway passing through Lori.

“At eight or nine sections, the road was completely or partially destroyed,” Sanosyan said, adding that rebuilding them “will take a lot of time and resources.”

Catastrophic flooding in Armenia’s north

In Lori, M6 runs parallel to the sole railway connecting Armenia to Georgia. Sanosyan said a total of 2.5 kilometers of rail tracks were washed away. In the minister’s words, “it will take some time” to restore railway communication between the two countries.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on May 27 received a delegation  headed by Georges Siffredi, the President of the Hauts-de-Seine of France.

According to  the Prime Minister’s Office, Nikol Pashinyan welcomed the visit of the delegation and emphasized the close decentralized cooperation between Armenia and France.

According to Pashinyan, this cooperation once again emphasizes Armenia’s special relations with France. The Prime Minister highlighted the mutual interest in this cooperation. At the same time, the PM highly appreciated the attitude of President Emmanuel Macron and, in general, France towards Armenia.

“France is one of our primary partners, and we have great potential to deepen our active cooperation,” Pashinyan said.

According to a government statement, Pashinyan and other officials agreed on the need for “international support in solving problems” caused by the floods. The statement said nothing about the scale of such aid that could be requested by Yerevan.

It also remained unclear whether the government could compensate Lori and Tavush residents whose homes were destroyed or seriously damaged on Sunday. Some of them also lost shops and other businesses or had goods perish because of flood waters.

In a flooded neighborhood of Alaverdi, another town in Lori, the owner of a butcher shop was desperate to find another refrigerated place for her meat worth thousands of dollars.

“We don’t have electricity, water or gas,” the woman told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “The neighborhood is cut off. Even bread can’t be brought here right now. I don’t know what to do.”

During the video conference, Pashinyan, who visited some of the flooded areas on Sunday, praised his government’s response to the natural disaster. He said local residents that he spoke to shared his view that “consequences of this disaster could have been much more severe.”

However, the government faced growing questions about its failure to warn the locals of the risk of severe flooding in advance despite heavy rainfall forecast by its meteorological service.

 

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