Georgian capital Tbilisi hit by floods - five dead

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A damaged house and wrecked car in Tbilisi's Ortachala district - 13 MayImage source, AFP

At least five people have been killed and dozens hurt after a river burst its banks in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, flooding parts of the city centre.

Floodwaters from the Mtkvari river submerged roads and bridges, cutting power supplies and depositing huge quantities of mud.

The authorities declared a state of emergency and sent troops to the city.

The Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, visited the devastated area on Sunday.

"We have to do everything to make sure that no-one lives in such conditions, especially in the risk zone," he said.

"We were expecting the heavy rain, as the snow had started to melt, and I was afraid that flooding could hit the regions, but we were hit in the centre of Tbilisi."

The floods were caused by a heavy rainstorm on Saturday evening. There have also been landslides in surrounding areas, with reports of farm animals being swept away.

Some people climbed on top of cars and had to be rescued by boat.

A mother, her two young children and an elderly woman were among the dead.

The head of the city's emergencies department, Temur Giorgadze, said they had died after becoming trapped in their home.

"Huge floods gushed into the street, unfortunately causing death. Four people died in a small house where they were living which became the epicentre of the disaster," he said.

"The water was carrying trees and debris which made things even more difficult."

The rain has now stopped but more is forecast for the coming days.