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15 Aug, 2008 06:58

‘Not enough coffins’ as rescuers restore war-torn capital

Russian rescuers are continuing to recover bodies from underneath the debris in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali – with many being buried in backyards without coffins. Doctors are working around the clock in mobile hospitals to care for th

Over 1700 Russian emergency workers are helping civilians recover from the bombardment of the South Ossetian capital.

The scale of devastation in Tskhinvali is enormous, but the focus remains on the rescue and recovery operations.

After visiting Tskhinvali, Russia’s Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu has estimated it will take at least two years to rebuild the city.

He said that every day 120 tonnes of essential provisions and building materials are being delivered to Tskhinvali. A working bakery has been set-up so that there is some fresh bread in the city.

At the moment Russia’s Emergencies Ministry staff are striving to restore destroyed power and water supplies as well as communications. They have partially succeeded.

They are also searching the debris to recover bodies trapped underneath the rubble.

The injured are being treated at mobile hospitals and a special group of psychologists are driving around the city trying to offer support.

Many local people are suffering severe psychological traumas. Some have even lost their ability to speak after all they have been through – witnessing their houses having been bombed and relatives killed.

There is currently a shortage of coffins in the city, as well vehicles and sufficient petrol to transport them. That’s why many are having to bury their loved ones and neighbours in their own backyards.

To watch more about South Ossetians and Russians mourning the dead, please follow the link

Meanwhile, a series of shots could be heard from around Tskhinvali in the early hours of Friday morning. It’s believed some of them came from the mountains where a number of Georgian snipers are reported to be hiding.

South Ossetian officials have said there was a group of women snipers operating in the city, and on Thursday a male sniper who apparently held Ukrainian citizenship was detained in Tskhinvali.

He was reported to be hiding on a roof and aiming mainly at civilians and oil tankers. 

The authorities have said that Ukrainians and citizens of the Baltic countries have been among the prisoners they have detained.

Show of solidarity

Meanwhile, several thousand people have gathered in central Moscow as a show of solidarity with people in South Ossetia.

Members of several Russian youth organisations, including Nashi, Young Russia and Locals, are donating blood for South Ossetians and Russian peacekeepers who have been injured in the conflict.

The blood will be transferred to South Ossetia along with medical supplies and clothes.

A recent survey conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTSIOM) has revealed 90 per cent of Russians considered it necessary to help South Ossetia by defending it.

80 per cent said South Ossetia had no future as a part of Georgia, 39 per cent thought Russia should incorporate South Ossetia and 41 per cent believed that South Ossetia should be granted full independence.