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Three injured in railway tunnel explosion in central Georgia

22 January 2018
The railway tunnel near Bezhatubani (Luka Pertaia/OC Media)

Three construction workers have been injured in an explosion, while constructing a railway tunnel in central Georgia.

According to the New Trade Unions, a railway workers’ union, the explosion was planned as part of the tunnel’s construction. According to them, several workers near where explosives were planted were not warned before they were detonated.

All three have been taken to hospital in the nearby town of Khashuri. Davit Melkadze, 61, suffered head injuries, while two others suffered fractures to their spines and limbs, according to the hospital.

A criminal investigation has been launched for ‘violations of health and safety rules’.

The explosion occurred sometime after midday on 22 January in the village of Bezhatubani, in Kharagauli Municipality, Imereti. The tunnel is to be a part of the Khashuri–Kharagauli–Zestaponi railway line.

The accident comes days after dozens of railway construction workers ended a strike against labour conditions on the site. More than 40 workers were demanding to be fully paid for annual leave and sick leave.

[Read on OC Media: Railway construction workers on strike in central Georgia]

After the company, China Railway 23rd Bureau Group, promised on 19 January to meet their demands, the workers stopped their strike.

China Railway 23rd Bureau Group, based in Chengdu, China, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corp, has been accused of breaching workplace health and safety rules.

The Georgian Trade Union Confederation said they inspected and monitored the company’s operations in October 2017 and found that the labour code is ‘often violated’.

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