TBILISI, DFWatch – A construction worker was killed as one wing of the new parliament building in Kutaisi collapsed Thursday afternoon.
According to eyewitnesses, 22 people were injured, but this is unconfirmed.
Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili confirmed that one had died and that several are injured, before he began a live televised speech that had no connection to the accident, surrounded by teachers.
For about half an hour before his acknowledgement there was some confusion, as several news agencies reported that there had been an accident, while the head of Parliament’s press office categorically denied that there had been a collapse.
Saakashvili’s acknowledgement at 18:11 was the first official confirmation of the accident.
Witnesses say the back wall of parliament’s chancellery collapsed.
The area is now fenced off and journalists are not allowed in.
President Saakashvili demands that a criminal investigation is initiated against those responsible for people not following safety rules during the construction work.
This is not the first fatal accident at the site. In December 2009, a woman and her daugher were killed when a World War II memorial was blown up to make way for the new parliament building. Four were seriously injured.
Moving parliament from Tbilisi to far away Kutaisi is Saakashvili’s brain child, but the process has taken place in secrecy; only recently was a price tag announced.
Construction work has been lagging behind, but Saakashvili several times in 2011 insisted that it would be formally opened on independence day May 26, 2012. The first session took place as planned, but the building was only half finished.