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Railway tunnel collapse injures two workers in West Georgia

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, July 31
Two workers have been injured as a result of a railway tunnel collapse in Kharagauli in the Imereti region of West Georgia.

The accident took place near the village of Aneula, where construction of the railway tunnel is underway.

The health condition of one worker is very grave. According to Doctor Nika Demetredze, the patient has a fractured skull, bruising in the brain and nasal bones fracture.

“The health condition of the injured worker is stable but grave, and he is undergoing treatment in the neurosurgery intensive therapy ward,” the doctor said.

The Head of the Railway Trade Union, Ilia Lejava, says his investigators checked the site in May and issued a number of recommendations for the Chinese Railway 23 construction company. He claims that the labor safety standards were violated there.

“As to what extent our recommendations have been fulfilled we do not know; we were scheduled to check it in September, but naturally at this stage we do not know whether the company took into account the recommendations or not. However, in May there was a visibly very hard situation in terms of the labor security,” Lejava stressed.

Also, the head of the Railway Trade Union says that in May there was a problem of ventilation and the construction was underway on the background of serious labor condition violations.

“Georgian Railways has to carry out regular monitoring at this site, because the company working on the tunnel construction is their contractor. However, the railway does not fulfill its obligations,” Lejava added.

The construction company denies the allegations and says that safety norms were observed at the site. According to them, the tunnel has not collapsed and only a small volume of stone fell in the excavation area.

“We emphasize that in the process of tunnel construction, the safety measures … were strictly observed,” the statement of the company reads.

An investigation into the incident has been launched under Article 240 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which pertains to the violation of safety rules in mining, construction, or other physical work.