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At least fourteen people have been injured after the roof of a metro station collapsed in the Georgian capital. The suspended ceiling of the Varketili Metro Station in the east of Tbilisi collapsed at 10:30 on 30 January, according to the Tbilisi Transport Company.
Health and Labour Minister Davit Sergeenko said the injured have been taken to four hospitals. Local media have reported that two of the injured were ‘severely wounded’.
By 14:20, the Interior Ministry confirmed that fourteen people had been injured in the accident, with no fatalities reported.
According to Giorgi Tkemaladze, the head of Tbilisi City Council, ‘the lives of the injured are not in danger’. Tbilisi City Hall and the Ministry of Health and Labour have promised to cover the medical expenses of those hurt.
The station, in which renovations were completed less than five months ago, will be temporarily shut down. Renovations by construction company Kvarelremmsheni started in 2016, costing the Tbilisi Transport Company almost ₾350,000 ($140,000).
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who rushed to the scene, vowed to ‘punish the culprits’, adding that the response to any wrongdoing uncovered in an investigation of the collapse would be ‘severe’. He added that all recently-renovated stations in the city are to be inspected.
Former Mayor Davit Narmania, under whose tenure the renovations were commissioned, insisted that City Hall did not rush the company to complete the work.
A criminal investigation has been launched for violating building safety standards, which is punishable by up to two years in prison. InterPressNews has reported that the director and three other employees of Kvarelremmsheni are already being questioned by police as part of the investigation.
Varketili Metro Station first opened in 1985, and was previously renovated in 2007.