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Zoo animals on the loose after flooding in Georgia's capital

At least eight people have died in Georgia's capital after severe flooding overnight. Sections of the zoo were destroyed, allowing tigers, lions, bears and other animals to escape and roam the streets of Tbilisi.

At least eight people died and several remain missing after heavy rainfall and winds hit the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, overnight.

Residents are being urged to stay indoors after heavy flooding damaged enclosures at the capital's zoo, allowing many of the animals to escape.

A spokesperson for the zoo's press service said Sunday that an escaped hippopotamus had been cornered in one of the city's main squares and pacified with a tranquilizer gun, while six tigers, six lions and eight bears also broke free.

It remains unclear how many animals remain on the loose.

Police have shot dead several animals over concerns for public safety, with six wolves killed at a children's hospital, broadcaster Rustavi 2 reported.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili offered condolences to the families of the flood victims and promised to rebuild the affected areas of the capital quickly.

Tibilisi vice mayor Irakly Lekvinadze told reporters that "dozens of families remain homeless as their houses were destroyed or damaged in the capital," adding that preliminary estimates put a damage bill at $10 million (8.8 million euros).

The government has set up a crisis center for those affected.

jlw/jr (AP, Reuters, dpa)