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Shopping Center Blazes in Tbilisi, Leaves Dozens Affected

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, February 28
A three-story shopping center City’s Heart, located in Tbilisi’s Didube District, caught fire late on February 27 and left dozens of shopkeepers and vendors unemployed- the shops and goods in the mall had not been insured.

As it was reported by the emergency service, the fire started on the top floor of the building at midnight.

Up to 38 fire brigades and 150 firefighters were working all night to prevent fire from spreading.

Head of the Emergency Management Service Giorgi Mghebrishvili said more than 3000 square meters of the shopping mall has been destroyed, adding the Interior Ministry has launched an investigation.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, who arrived at the site late at night and in the morning, spoke with the affected vendors.

He thanked fire-fighters for their hard work and promised the shopkeepers to do his best to assist them.

The Mayor said the restoration works will begin in the nearest future, and people whose goods have survived the fire will be employed in nearby areas.

Kaladze added that expert-criminalists were working at the site to find out what caused the fire. According to him, the total loss is calculated, the administration of the shopping mall will meet with each vendor individually to discuss compensation issues.

“The administration of the shopping center assured us that the electricity system was newly renovated and that the building was in line with fire safety norms. We will find out what caused the fire,” the mayor stated.

The shopkeepers and vendors, whose goods were burnt, claim they saw a huge loss.

Part of the affected traders alleges the fire was deliberately set, as the City’s Heart is the fourth shopping center that burnt down during the last two years in Didube District.

In late January 2017, a large shopping mall Children’s World burnt down along with the nearby shops and a market.

Moreover, in July, 2017, an extensive fire hit Eliava Market in the Didube district leaving around 2300 square meters burnt and destroying at least 15 shops of automobile parts, paints and tires.

On February 22, 2018, a large warehouse of mattresses was also destroyed by a fire, which started in the so called Kirov Factory.

The exact causes of all fires in Didube district have not been established yet.

However, starting March 1, 2018, a new regulation takes effect. According to the regulation, all kinds of shopping centers, markets, malls, hotels and gas/petrol stations will be obliged to have insurance.

The regulation was adopted on December 27, 2017 and it sets insurance limits as well.

In case of the markets / shopping centers, 30.000 GEL is the maximum limit per affected person’s life and in case of damaging one’s health - 15 thousand Gel is the amount of compensation.

If a shopkeeper or vendor’s goods are destroyed in fire, the insurance limit is 15 thousand GEL, if a number of destroyed properties exceeds one, 15,000 Gel will be multiplied to the number of destroyed shops or properties. In such case, the total sum of the limit is 15 million GEL.