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Batumi Hotel Fire Kills 11

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, November 27
(BATUMI, Georgia)--11 people died and more than 20 were injured when a fire broke out late Friday at a five-star hotel in Georgia’s Black Sea coastal resort Batumi.

The cause of the fire still remains unknown.

Firefighters managed to save around 100 people from the 22-story Leogrand Hotel, but have yet to determine the cause of the blaze.

The hotel opened in summer 2015 and includes presidential apartments, conference halls, restaurants and night clubs, was due to host the Miss Georgia beauty pageant on Sunday. Officials said none of the 20 contestants, who were reportedly staying in the hotel, were injured.

The relatives of the victims told media that eight of the victims were found in the elevator, one in the pool and two in the hotel gym.

According to reports from Batumi’s first responders, all of the victims were men, 10 of which were Georgian citizens and one a citizen of Iran.

Georgia’s Internal Affairs Minister Giorgi Gakharia said an official investigation is underway and would likely conclude “fairly quickly”.

Zurab Pataridze, the head of the Adjaran regional government, told the media the Leogrand had earlier been fined by the Ministry of Internal Affairs due to fire safety violations and the local Tourism Department had also issued a recommendation to reprimand the hotel management for the numerous infractions last year.

Kakha Tsereteli, the lawyer for the Leogrand said the company is not shirking its responsibility, saying representatives from the hotel management are ready to cooperate with investigators.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

"I offer my wholehearted condolences to the families and relatives of the victims. I wish a quick recovery to those who were injured. I’d also like to thank rescuers, firefighters and all those who saved lives in this very dangerous situation.”

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who visited the site while flying to Georgia from the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels, called the incident “a major tragedy” and expressed his sympathy for the families and relatives of the victims.

“This will be followed by a sharp response and all those who are responsible for this will be punished," the PM stressed.

Georgia’s public defender, Ucha Nanuashvili, released a statement saying the government must also take some responsibility for the lack of sufficient safety measures at the hotel.

“The case should serve as grounds for the implementation of relevant regulations by the authorities to check the safety procedures of all hotels and guesthouses,” said Nanuashvili.

The government has declared November a national day of mourning to honor the victims of the fire.