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Toll from Landslide in Georgia Mountain Resort up to 17 Dead, 18 Missing

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The death toll from a landslide that hit a resort area in the mountains of the country of Georgia increased to 17, officials and news reports said Saturday, on the third day of a search and rescue operation.

The landslide hit the Shovi area on Thursday. Shovi, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) northwest of the capital Tbilisi, is popular for its mineral springs and rugged mountain vistas and contains cottages and small hotels.

The head of the Georgian Internal Affairs Ministry’s Emergency Management Service, Temur Mgebrishvili, confirmed the death of 17 people and noted that 18 people were still unaccounted for.

Georgian authorities said that, of the dead, they had only been able to identify seven people and that DNA analysis would determine the identity of the other victims.

Officials said the landslide apparently was triggered by heavy rainfall, aggravated by recent erosion in the area.