Vakhtang Gomelauri, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, confirmed that eight people died due to the crash and explosion of the border police helicopter in Gudauri. First, I would like to express my sorrow regarding the incident and offer my condolences to the victims' families. Six people were our employees; two were doctors of the emergency medical centre. A video was also released showing that the helicopter lost control and crashed. We don't know anything else yet. Experts will work out what caused the loss of control of the aircraft. Therefore, we probably already know the answer. Unfortunately, eight people died. One paraglider is injured the foreign tourist who was with him also died. The injured person has already been rescued.
As for paragliding, I agree it's a big problem; hardly a week goes by without a rescue operation being necessary. Unfortunately, there are also cases of death. We must work on it, tighten the regulations or ban them altogether.
Paragliders often crash here. The valley is windy, and many of the paragliders are not professionals. We will definitely follow how this license is issued should be examined. In my opinion, all kinds of paragliding should be stopped during these days, and permits should be given to people who are real professionals", - Gomelauri said.
According to Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, July 30 will be declared a day of mourning in the country due to the tragedy.
According to the Ministry, the helicopter belonging to the border police was on the rescue operation of paragliders who were crushed in Gudauri. In the video shot by the eyewitnesses, it can be seen that the helicopter's "tail rotor” was damaged, and in a few seconds, it was removed, after which the aircraft lost control.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs information, the search and rescue mission for the paragliding instructor, the accompanying passenger, and the persons on board the helicopter is underway.
The investigation of the violation of air transport operation rules is being conducted under Article 275 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
Due to the helicopter crash, the highway from Mleta to Kobo has been blocked by the patrol police and traffic is prohibited.
The Georgian Border Police own several Mi8s. The helicopter was created in the 60s at the Moscow Aviation Factory and is one of the most common multipurpose Soviet helicopters. In Georgia, it is used to transport border patrol in mountainous areas and during emergencies, rescue operations, or extinguishing fires.
In 2017, a Mi8 belonging to the Border Police crashed while taking water from the Gujarula River in the Borjomi Gorge. The helicopter participated in fire fighting. Four crew members were slightly injured. The Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that the aircraft had undergone regulatory inspection two days before and was in order. The helicopter that fell into the reservoir was recovered from the water the next day, later repaired and returned to the border police for use.
French-made Super Puma helicopter, worth 90 million GEL, belonging to the border police, crashed on July 12, 2018, and is still in the Artani mountains in Kakheti. According to official information, five people on board were injured - three MIA pilots, one border guard and one patrol police officer.
The State of Georgia does not own any special rescue helicopters.