At least five people were killed when a block of flats partly collapsed in Georgia’s Black Sea resort of Batumi, police said Saturday, blaming unsafe renovation work for the accident.
Around five floors of the building collapsed on Friday, crushing several cars parked outside and leaving “up to 15 people” missing under the rubble, according to police.
“So far emergency responders have saved two citizens, who were brought to hospital, and recovered five bodies,” the police said in a statement.
Three people have been arrested in a probe into the collapse, the statement added, identifying them as the owner of a ground-floor apartment and two construction workers he had hired.
Investigators found that the two men, acting on the owner’s orders, were working “in gross violation of safety rules, leading to the collapse of an entrance into the building”.
If convicted, the three risk between two and 10 years in prison.
Hundreds of responders were sent to the scene of the collapse Friday, while Prime Minister Irakli Garibachvili and Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri also travelled to Batumi.
Batumi — a port town — is the second largest city in Georgia and lies near the Turkish border in the south-west of the country.