YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—A massive landslide on the Vanadzor-Bagratashen highway on Sunday trapped 35 cars. Seven people are reported missing as emergency crews continue to work around the clock.
Armenia’s Emergency Situations Ministry has announced the names of the missing seven people, four of whom are Georgian citizens, reported ARKA news agency.
Mud and stones loosened by heavy rains on Sunday night caused the landslide on the major highway connecting Armenia and Georgia, officials from Armenia’s Emergency Situations Ministry said.
Road crews were on the scene and attempting to clear the blockage, but new avalanches were making repair and rescue work more difficult.
The impacted section of the highway, near Ayrum railway station was closed for traffic on Sunday.
The emergency ministry identified the missing people as Arthur Hakobian, born in 1992, Gurgen Hakobian, born in 1949, Gena Surmanidze born in 1961 and Nukri Surmanidze born in 1981, all citizens of Georgia. The other three missing persons are citizens of Armenia. They are Armen Sorsumatian and Mekhak Sorsumatian (born in 1973 and 1964), and Norik Mirzoyan, born in 1939.
Emergency minister Armen Yeritsian was on the scene coordinating the work of rescuers. The press service of the ministry said Georgia’s ambassador to Armenia, Tengiz Sharmanashvili, called in the morning offering assistance from his government.
The Emergency ministry said it has dispatched 70 rescue workers, 20 army servicemen and 4 units of heavy military vehicles and 10 ambulances to the scene. The area was cordoned off by police. Also 70 police officers were sent to the scene to help maintain order
The emergency ministry had warned September 30 that landslides intensified on that section of the highway. The road was cleared, but the threat of landslides persisted. Landslides intensified this summer in Tavush region after torrential rains jeopardizing 75 houses.