YEREVAN — Armenian authorities will declare a disaster zone in Lori and Tavush provinces after catastrophic flooding caused extensive damage to local infrastructure and loss of human lives. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a remote meeting with members of a task force coordinating the Armenian government’s response to the calamity.

Participating in the meeting were Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff Arayik Harutyunyan, Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan, who heads the activities of the operational headquarters, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Director of the Rescue Service Kamo Tsutsulyan, Lori Governor Aram Ghazaryan, Tavush Governor Hayk Ghalumyan, Alaverdi Mayor Davit Ghumashyan, Tashir Mayor Edgar Arshakyan and Dilijan Mayor Davit Sargsyan

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.

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 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.

“We have a total of 14 damaged bridges,” Sanosyan said during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s video conference.

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.

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.”

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

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.

 

 

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